iL^s^^ififea i cm^j^^^^.
^LI B RAR.Y
ON DANGEROUS GROUND.
A NO VEL.
EDITH STEWART DREWRY,
AUTHOR OF " A DEATH RING," " SWORN FOES," "BAPTISED
WITH A CURSE," " TWO FLOWERS," ETC., ETC.
IN Til BEE VOLUMES.
LONDON: F. V. WHITE & CO.,
31 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C.
18 8 3.
\^All Rifjhts reserved. ^^
F. V. WHITE & CO.'S
Crown Zvo, cloih, y. 6d. each.
The following Volumes of the Series are now ready:—
MY SISTER THE ACTRESS. By Florence Marryat.
' " My Sister the Actress " is the best novel we have had the pleasure of
reading Yrom the pen of Miss Marryat.' — yokn Btdl.
THE DEAN'S WIFE. By Mrs Eiloart.
' Any reader who wants a good story thoroughly well told cannot do better
than read " The Dean's Wife." '—John Bull.
I A BROKEN BLOSSOM. By Florence Marryat.
j ' A really charming story, full of delicate pathos and quiet humour ;
pleasant to read and pleasant to remember.'— y^i/m Bull.
TWO MEN AND A MAID. By Harriett Jay.
' Compared with the former works of the authoress of "The Queen of
Connaught," this novel must be pronounced second to none.' — GraJ>kic.
SWEETHEART AND WIFE. By Lady Constance
'The story from first to last is attractive, and cannot fail to command
wide favour.' — Whiteliall Review.
PHYLLIDA. By Florence Marryat.
"' Phyllida " is a novel of which the author may be justly proud.' —
BARBARA'S WARNING. By the Author of ' Recom-
mended to Mercy.'
COLSTON AND SON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
A DIAMOND WILL CUT GLASS, .
OVER THEIR FIVE O'CLOCK,
THE FANCY AND THE REALITY,
LEICESTER ALBANY EN VOYAGE NOT ALL
SMOOTH SAILING, .
" RECULER POUR MIEUX SAUTER,"
ANTAGONISM, . . . . . 100
GABRIELLE BETRAYS DOUGLAS, . .114
SANDS MAKE THE MOUNTAINS, . .136
MISTRESS AND MAN, . . . . 146
CHOOSING THE PARTS, . . .154
CHAPTER XI y.
CROSS CURRENTS, . . . .170
THE NEW "OLIVIA," .... 180
CRUMBLING BENEATH THEIR FEET, . .195
THE BALL — THE PLAY, . . . 201
THE BALL A BUTTERFLY SINGES ITS WINGS, . 219
ON MNGEEOUS GEOUND.
^I^P HEEE are some people with whom,
as they say in South America,
you may "eat a barrel of salt "
and not know them, or be less a stranger
with them at the end than at the begin-
ning ; there are others au contraire to whom
we are as unerringly drawn by some subtle
rapport — some chord of sympathy on which
a friendship ripens — often too with oppo-
site natures which cannot count its growth
VOL. 11. A
2 Two Favourites.
and strength by days or weeks. Such was
the friendship between the two Nevilles
and the two tenants of the west wing.
Certainly a singular conjunction of circum-
stances had combined at the very outset of
the acquaintance to break down and through
all the usual barriers which must otherwise
have stood for some time. And yet it
would have been hard to find two women
more dissimilar than Kose Neville and
Gabrielle Albany. The one was an abso-
lute embodiment of the words " Peace on
earth, goodwill towards men," — one of those
rare beings from whom all evil and tempta-
tion seem literally to roll away like oil from
water, to whom, indeed, that which to most
others was temptation was none to her,
simply because there was nothing in her
that met it ; she had the widest sympathies
of truest philanthropy, deep clinging affec-
tions, patient, enduring love, — but none of
those strong passions and masculine forces
which were the very ebb and flow of that
Two Favourites, 3
other nature's tides. Neither could any
sophistry deceive her, or casuistry blind
her, for, though if there was any fallacious
hole in it she might not perhaps be always
able to intellectually pull it to pieces, her
singularly intense moral rectitude would go
straight through and through all the net-
work to the right thing as unerringly as
the carrier pigeon comes home ; it was an
instinct. You might puzzle her reason,
perhaps, or mentally put her in a fog,, but
never morally. Many an intellect which
dwarfed hers, many a schoolman steeped to
the lips in erudition might have sat with
advantage, morally — giving the word its-
widest scope — at the feet of this gentle
Gamaliel. That was the elder woman ; but
the younger was the seething volcano, only
with the outward calm and quiet of proud
control — none within — fitted to battle with
the stern world and a weight of trouble
that would have simply laid Eose in her
grave. She could not realise, understand,
4 Two Favourites,
such a base nature as was presented to her
in that story of Leicester Albany, though
she believed it as a fact, because the wife
stood a living witness before her, but prac-
tically great wickedness was a myth to her
comprehensiveness ; she had borne the sor-
row that had come to her — and who is free?
— with patient resignation ; the other her
deadly wrongs with proud, stern endurance.
So, naturally, the more restful, calmer
nature was soothing to the passionate,
troubled soul of the other, and there it
was the tie grew closer day by day.
'•I'm so very glad you like Sister Eose
so much, Gabrielle," Douglas said one day,
as she sat not far from him at his secretaire
Her pen had stopped, or he had not
spoken. She looked up with the bright
smile that came readily at his voice.
" She is so good," she said, " and I never
had a woman's friendship before."
"You would not easily pass the bounds
Two Favourites. 5
of society acquaintance," remarked Glen-
Luna ; " you are proud and reserved."
Gabrielle paused a moment, and then
said quietly, —
" It has been my fault, if fault it is,
to stand alone. I never made one friend
amongst the girls at that miserable school.
I was only just sixteen when I fled from
them and married ; then I was in the
whirl of the gayest foreign society, and,
amongst the women I met more intim-
ately, there was none I cared for beyond
mere liking. There was not one amongst
us, I know, one quarter as good as Eose
" Except yourself," said Douglas quickly,
Gabrielle Albany shook her head.
" No, I was only a girl, only mortal
woman, not an angel or saint to walk
unscathed in the flames. The fire burned
me — certainly embittered, seared me —
you know that as well as I do."
6 Two Favourites,
" You shall not force me to abandon
my colours, Gabrielle. Perhaps I do know
that, but no one can knock about, or be
knocked about, in the world and be as
unscathed — if a bitter life experience, and
hardly bought worldly knowledge is neces-
sarily being' 'scathed' — as those of a quieter
mould both in nature and life. I declare,"
he said, breaking into a half laugh, "if
you are always going to compare yourself
with Sister Kose, to your own detraction,
I shall be compelled to hate her."
" Then, you see, I should hate you,
" I am not the least bit afraid that you
would even try," said he, with all the
contented impudence of security.
" I will tell you what, monsieur, I spoil
you too much, and indulge you in your
"I don't think I get that much from
you, dear tyrant."
" Quite as much as is good for you,
Two Favourites, 7
especially when you look so very wicked,
as you do now."
*' Do I ? Did not your new riding-
habit come down from town last night ?
The saddle I ordered has, I know — "
" Then, by the saints, I will at last
have the pleasure of seeing you enjoy a
ride again ! " exclaimed Douglas. " Please
do ring the bell, quick, dear Gabrielle,
and we'll have out the open carriage and
He saw her eyes sparkle as she obeyed,
but, while he gave his orders to the ser-
vant who appeared, she finished her letter,
closed it, and addressed it to Lady Glen-
Luna, who had, in an effusive epistle,
begged for news of her ** darling boy."
This happened to exactly suit her clever
antagonist, and in a reply containing more
easy, graceful phrases than information —
for the gifted writer could be either as
verbose and involved as Mr Gladstone, or
8 Two Favourites,
as terse as Latin, according to her will —
she managed, while speaking of Douglas's
health and the coming autumn, to convey-
to Adeline the decided impression that to
bring down guests would be both dis-
tasteful and by no means the thing for
her charge ; all this, without even naming
Dr Neville, or committing herself, couched
in a cloud of flowing words, out of which
Adeline would read — blinded, as Gabrielle
well reckoned, by her own evil wishes and
bent — that society would be bad for the
chance of Douglas's improvement, and dear,
generous Sir Arthur, read just the other
way. The letter was a masterpiece of
She was not long in dressing, and per-
haps no costume could have so perfectly
set off her superb and picturesque beauty
as the close-fitting habit and graceful
cavalier hat. Douglas's own beautiful eyes
gazed on her without any attempt to
disguise his admiration.
Two Favourites, g
" Ma foi/' said he, " Hassan's beauty
will be well matched ! — you look simply
superb — if you will forgive me for such
an open compliment ; you know I told
you it was second nature, and I could
not help saying pretty things. I'm in-
" I am afraid you are." She wheeled
the chair up to the couch. ''Are you
ready, for Harford is at the lift, and the
carriage at the door ; lean on me."
" I don't think I shall ever reconcile
myself to making a leaning-post of such
a slight thing as you," said Glen-Luna ;
" but you will scold me, I know, if I call
Harford, so — "
He raised himself, laid one hand firmly,
though not heavily, on her shoulder, and
so, standing erect for one second, stepped
into the chair, which Mrs Albany at once
wheeled out into the corridor and into the
lift, descending with him herself as usual.
At the terrace steps stood the elegant open
lo Two Favourites,
carriage, in charge of Marston, while another
groom held Harford's horse and his master's
magnificent Arab, who testified his instant
recognition of Douglas, the moment he
appeared, by a delighted whinny and
eao-er start forward for the accustomed
"Dear old Hassan," said Douglas, as the
beautiful animal gently pushed his nose
into his hand and against his shoulder,
"you must be a jewel to-day, for you
have to carry a lady. Oh ! you know
her again ! Of course you do. Marston,
has he been out this morning ? "
"Yes, sir; but still I think that Mrs
Albany will have to give him a good
Harford now assisted his master into the
carriage, and then turned to mount his
mistress, as he considered and called Gab-
rielle. It was almost amusing to see the
absolute ease with which the powerful man
just put his two hands on her waist and
Two Favourites, 1 1
swung her into the saddle. Douglas fairly
laughed as the courier mounted.
" Harford makes no more of your weight,
Mrs Albany, than if you were a kitten.
Would you mind if we go over to Lang-
bourne, to the old farrier, and see if my
other four-footed favourite is ready to come
home ? I want to introduce you to Angus."
" I should like it very much," answered
Gabrielle. **Let go Hassan's head, please,
The noble, wild-spirited Arab, who had
been impatiently tossing his handsome head
and performing a dance of his own inven-
tion, sprang forwards with a bound, which
the rider's strong hand instantly checked,
and reined him back to the side of the
carriage, that she might talk to Douglas.
"•Hassan cannot have his way yet," he
said, " though, like the rest of us, he likes
to get it when he can. I wonder why
everything that has life is fond of following
its own sweet will, and foi de mon dme ! "
12 Two Favourites.
said he, vigorously. " How detestable it is
to have one's own will seriously crossed ! "
*'I don't think yours has had much of
that," said Gabrielle, with a quizzical glance
that made him laugh.
" There ! Gro and race off your wickedness
and Hassan's wildness over that splendid
upland. I want to see you to advantage."
" V raiment ! Off then, dear Hassan !"
Horse and rider were off over the turf at
a speed which must have unseated any but
a very perfect rider.
Douglas watched him intently, and a
cloud passed over the bright beauty of his
face — a passionate sweep of bitterest agony,
the maddening feeling with which the young,
strong eagle, chained to the beetling rock,
might watch the circling flight of his free
He leaned back, setting the small, white
teeth, clenching the chiselled hands for a
moment ; but, ah ! me — was that all ? Was
there no other deeper, if unacknowledged.
Two Favourites, 1 3
pain in the depth of that wild heart, as she
came back to him, with slightly flushed
cheeks and sparkling eyes, so dazzling in
her glorious beauty and youth that he
almost held his breath before he spoke,
though, in her mere presence, the cloud
" You look ripe for another helter-skelter
race," he said. "Go off again. Nay ! you
shall not stop for me ; your pleasure is
mine ! "
"And mine, just now," she answered
brightly, "is to ride here and talk to you,
and perhaps, if your canine pet is ready to
return with us, I'll ride a race with him for
your edification. Is Langbourne far?"
" Three miles from Doring, down
" We shall not be long, then ?"
^' I wish it were three times as far," said
Glen -Luna, with a wicked glance that
pointed the compliment. " Marston ! take
the road skirting the river banks, Mrs
14 Two Favourites,
Albany is as fond of the sight of water as
Marston touched his hat, and, after leav-
ing the park, turned to the river as desired,
but the distance proved to be only a half-
hour's drive, or else, as Douglas declared,
" pleasant company made time take wings."
" There is old Dick Hurdle's place, sir,"
said Marston, pulling up his horses before
the yard gate of an old, straggling, red-
brick cottage, which a huge board above
the porch announced to belong to " Eichard
" He does not seem to be busy," said
Harford, throwing his bridle over the gate-
post and dismounting ; but they had been
both heard and seen, for a girl about twelve
ran out of the door into the back-yard, call-
ing out, " Grandfather ! come, quick, and
bring Angus ! Here's the young master,
and a beautiful lady on his own horse 1"
The next moment there was just a glimpse
of an old man round the corner, and of a
Two Favourites, 15
magnificent young collie dog of the largest
breed; then an absolute, almost human
shriek of joy, a sudden rush like an aval-
anche, and the dog had dashed through the
open gates and leaped with one bound into
the carriage, his paws on his masters breast,
licking him all over, whining, quivering
with such frantic joy and excitement that it
was some time before even the beloved hand
and voice could at all calm the poor animal.
" Now, Angus, dear old boy ! Yes, I
know well how you love your master, but
go and speak to Harford and make acquaint-
ance with your mistress."
Down leaped Angus, jumped delightedly
on Harford, pranced round his Arab friend,
and bounced up to Gabrielle, licking the
caressing hand she stretched to him, whin-
ing joyfully at the sweet voice that addressed
" You noble beauty ! You dear boy !
Oh, Mr Douglas, can't we take him back
with us ? — his foot must be well ?"
1 6 Two Favourites.
" It's quite well now, ma'am, bless ye,"
said old Dick, now coming forwards, " I
was a-going to send him home this evening,
sir, but, of course, now you'll take him your-
self; 'specially as the young lady wants
him. How's the rest o' the family, sir?"
" Thanks, Dick, they're all well, and my
father asked after you, in his last letter
wasn't it, Mrs Albany?"
" Yes ; two days ago."
*' Lord bless him ! How good of him,
now, to think of old Dick, the farrier," said
the delighted old man, '' please, sir, to give
him my humblest duty, and tell him how
proud I am he should think of me."
" I'll write on purpose to tell him, Dick,"
returned the young master, " good-bye."
And the cavalcade swept off, carriage,
riders, and the dog bounding on before ;
but presently, in a narrow lane, as the two
riders were alongside behind the carriage,
Harford bent towards Gabrielle, and said,
in a low voice, —
Two Favourites, 1 7
"That dog is as wise as we are, Mrs
Albany. He cannot bear a certain person,
coax him as she will ; Angus never will
speak to her."
" I suppose not," said the other dryly,
" he loves his master too well to be
The courier glanced ahead, and then asked,
in the same undertone, —
"Do you think, madam, that she will
bring down guests ?" •
Mrs Albany looked up straight into his
face, with a soft little odd laugh.
" I have written to her, Harford, and
made the game sure."
" You are as clever as you are daring, Mrs
Albany ; you know how to tread both fear-
lessly and warily on dangerous ground."
Ay, for his sake ; but oh for the poor,
brave heart that still was but human.
Heaven help her 1 There the ground
was crumbling away from under her, day
by day, and hour by hour.
VOL. II. B
"A DIAMOND WILL CUT GLA8S."
TA scribatur ut etiamsi literse in
ejus manus incederint offendi
non possint" is a maxim, and,
broadly interpreted, a very wise maxim, of
the Jesuits ; and Gabrielle Albany had taken
its worldly wisdom to heart early enough
in her troubled life. She had only put it
into force once more in that letter which,
speeding its way through many hands,
reached its destination the next morning,
and was found on her plate by Lady Glen-
Luna when she entered the breakfast-room,
the first one down.
"Mrs Albany's writing," she muttered^
A Diamond will cut -Glass, 1 9
with a sort of little purr to herself,
like a cat who has, or thinks she has,
caught a mouse. " What a beautiful hand
it is, though more like a man's than a
woman's. Now, let us see what are her
news of her charge. Driving him out, I
suppose, with those blood-horses. Very
daring of her ; they might bolt and kill
She opened the letter and read it. How
thin and sinister her lips looked now, anA
how coldly steel grey her eyes under the
arched brows. She puckered them up with
a somewhat puzzled look, which, however,
gave place to a sleek, complacent smile
as she read the letter through again, this
time slowly, as if weighing every word ;
then sat with it in her hand cogitating.
"Yes!" she muttered. "I see exactly
what she really means and wants. She
is far too high-bred to wish or attempt
to dictate to me what is best for her
charge ; but still it is quite clear to me
20 A Diamond will cut Glass.
that she wishes me, and me alone, to read
between the lines, and understand that
guests at Luna would fret Douglas very
seriously. Au meme temps, Madame Gab-
rielle, you have been a leetle too clever,
for your hint is so delicately veiled, the
whole so involved, that anyone might per-
fectly well understand it quite the other
way (as I shall certainly choose to do),
or be in a fog as to what you do mean.
Chere madame, you are already — ha ! ha !
— so deeply anxious for his interests and
fancies that you are too clever by half.
/ see fast enough ; but I can and shall
make of this letter what I like, so that
you wont suspect me more than you do
now. I'll fill the house with guests, Lees
and all, if Arthur likes. I'm not afraid
of Hyacinth one bit now ; she will never
be able to rival la magnifique Albany."
To whose clever wire-pulling she was so
completely and blindly dancing.
My lady ! my lady ! If you wish to
A Diamond will cut Glass, 2 1
succeed in outdoing Gabrielle Albany, you
will have to do it by some coup-de-main !
Outwit her you never will ; for she, at
least, knows where the serpent is, if she
cannot always foresee its next blow. But
you, in blind serenity, deem you have a
dupe, where you have the most suspicious,
most wary, and relentless of antagonists.
Which, then, is treading on the most dan-
gerous ground — you, or the noble-hearted
woman whom, with such ruthless, calculat-
ing cruelty to both of them, you have
flung at Douglas Glen-Luna's feet ?
Steps and voices outside the door, and
Sir Arthur and Jessie came in together.
" Letters, my dear ? " said the baronet.
" Is that from Douglas ? Ah ! no. I see
it is Mrs Albany's writing ; but I suppose
it is all about him."
" Yes, dear. I asked her to let me
know how they got on, and what they
did to pass the time. Bead it, both of
you, and tell me your impression. Mine
2 2 A Diamond will cut Glass.
is that she fancies it is rather a mistake
of us to yield to the dear boy's natural
shrinking from having guests down."
Sir Arthur read the letter. Jessie peeping
over his shoulder, while Lady Glen-Luna
rang for breakfast.
" Well, what think you of it, Arthur ? "
she said, in her pretty, bright way, "if it
won't harm him,"
" The letter gives me that impression
entirely, my dear, as much as it says any-
thing, and, of course, last year he was still
too ill to bear anything."
" Oh, papa ! " exclaimed Jessie, eagerly,
" I'm sure it can't hurt him now if we had
fifty guests ! It w^ouldn't interfere with
him. He's got all the west wing and Mrs
Albany all to himself ! What more can
he want ? "
" Hush ! my love," said her mother, re-
provingly, "it is not what he wants, for he
is too unselfish to * want ' anything himself,
but what is best for him ; we must take care
A Diamond will cut Glass. 23
of him. It is a load of anxiety off my mind
that we have providentially secured such a
devoted attendant as dear Mrs Albany."
You see this woman was too clever to
show her darkest cards, even to the daughter
for whom she schemed.
Sir Arthur, tapping an egg, smiled and
" Whom, then, you soft-hearted little
woman, did you think of asking down ? "
" Well, dear, I had hardly thought of it
yet ; but, of course, I know, for instance,
you would like your old friend's widow and
daughter, the Lees, asked, and some sports-
men — Sir George Saltoun and his son, wife,
and daughter, and, well, I should like to
ask Mr Brandon, too, as some slight
return for really saving darling Jessie's
" Capital I " exclaimed Sir Arthur ; ** he's
a most agreeable man, and would enjoy the
shooting immensely. But then, my dear,
it seems to me that you will have an over-
24 A Diamond will cut Glass.
balance of one sex. You'll want more
Adeline laughed, and began tallying off
on her fingers as merrily as a girl.
" I don't think so. We shall have, then,
Percy Eosslyn, young Saltoun, and Clifford
Brandon. Against that we have Jessie here,
Hyacinth Lee, and Julia Saltoun, the elders
making up the party."
" And a very nice party, too ; only Adie,
we must try and get handsome Mrs Albany
to ' show' a little you know."
" Oh, my dear," returned the little lady,
with a good-natured laugh, " we shall not
get her to desert Douglas, depend upon it !
And he certainly won't leave the west wing,
or allow it to be invaded."
In the latter she was right enough ; in
the former assertion she was doomed to
disappointment and vexation of spirit.
But lest some letter should arrive to
change Sir Arthur's amenable reading of
the one received, my lady determined to
A Diamond will cut Glass. 2 5
put the matter beyond recall that same day
by securing the proposed guests, especially
Clifford Brandon, who she saw was entirely
epris with Jessie, and to whom, as he was
rich (that was beyond doubt), well born,
and the most charming creature, she had no
objection if Jessie liked him.
" Certainly," she mused, as she dressed
for her calls, " I should have preferred a
title, and perhaps a younger man, but really
there are just now no titles and money
together that T could secure for her, and if —
if — I — fail," she was drawing on her lemon
kids now, '' I do not want her to flirt through
another season or two ; men get tired of a girl
then ; she is passe, I think she can hold her
own against Hyacinth Lee ; besides, though
she can flirt, she is, I'm certain, in love with
Douglas, or why didn't she accept other
offers ? And then, come worse to worse, I
could I think, pit Mrs Leicester Albany
against her. Heaven ! If that woman was
only unmarried, how dangerous she would
26 A Diamond will cut Glass.
be. But you see" — she was apparently
addressing this salve to her own conscience
— if she had such an inconvenient article —
" I was forced to some such step, for I could
not have again avoided the Lees being asked,
and the girl would probably have won
Douglas. NoWy of course, there is no fear.
Certainly in Gabrielle Albany my good for-
tune has played me her trump card."
And down to the carriage tripped that
" sweet little Lady Glen-Luna." What a
masque we move in !
Ill deeds will rise,
Though all the world o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
Glass is very hard and sharp, but we all
know that a diamond will cut it.
'OW, really, my dear Mrs Orde,
do just look, upon my word !
and they've stopped again at
those Nevilles' ! "
Tableau ! Mrs Winstanley and Mrs Doctor
Orde staring from the former's window
opposite Cedar Lodge, on the scandalous
sight presented one day by the stopping of
Douglas Glen-Luna's elegant open carriage,
with himself in it, Gabrielle mounted on
the beautiful Arab, who certainly put his
daring rider's strength and skill to the test
sometimes ; and the noble collie, Angus, leap-
ing in high spirits from one to the other.
'* I believe she is just an artful, designing
widow, after all," added Mrs Winstanley,
" and has thoroughly deceived that sweet,
innocent Lady Glen-Luna."
" Widow, indeed, my dear ! " said Mrs
Orde, who never forgave Mrs Albany for
sending for the London physician instead
of her husband. " I really wonder if she
ever was anybody's wife at all, to begin
with. Of course, she knows she's very
handsome and looks superb on that Arab,
which nobody ever rode but him before site
must needs choose to treat his favourite
horses as if they were her own — ugh ! I
hate those fast, impudent foreign women.
I think Lady Glen-Luna must be mad to
have her at all, and those Nevilles must
be mry queer people" — these ladies dealt
largely in italics — " to be so intimate already;
just listen now, she's actually calling to Miss
Neville in the garden."
A terrible crime certainly, and only made
the scandal worse for that beautiful woman
to wheel her impatient, restless horse, close
to the pretty gate, and call, in her rich,
mellow tones, —
" Sister Eose ! here we are, leave your
pets a minute."
For there was sweet Sister Eose in her
garden, with a broad brown " basin " hat,
and large apron on, and gardening gloves,
and big scissors in her hand, cutting, trim-
ming, petting her flowers, as if they were
alive. At the sound of wheels, and that
voice, she lifted herself erect, threw down
scissors and pruning-knife, and, with her
sunny smile, came quickly down to the gate,
pulling off her bemoulded gloves.
" How good of you both to stop," she said,
clasping Mrs Albany's hand, and nodded
brightly to Douglas — "You too, Angus,"
as the collie jumped forepaws upon the gate,
eager for a caress. " Where have you taken
her to-day, Mr Douglas ? "
" Faith, I can hardly tell you Sister Eose,
or Gabrielle either, for Marston or Harford
are generally our guides, but we have been
some fifteen or twenty miles, I believe, eli,
" Quite that, sir."
" And yesterday," added Glen-Luna, " we
spent the day from nine o'clock till ten at
nio-ht on the steam-launch ; we ran down to
Cliveden, which Gabrielle had never seen."
" That was delightful," said Eose ; '' you
are taking the best advantage of the fine
" Of which," laughed Douglas, " we get
such scanty allowance in England."
" Poor England ! " Sister Eose shook her
head; " you and Gabrielle are always abusing
" It only deserves abuse," said he, with
a wicked, defiant glance ; '* do you know we,
Gabrielle and I, call the sun ' the English
stranger ? ' "
" You are a very bad, ungrateful fellow
then, and she's as bad," retorted Sister Eose,
merrily ; " you are both spoiled by being so
Hydra. 3 1
much abroad. Have you heard from town
since you wrote, my dear ? " this to Mrs
" Only a few lines, but I daresay we shall
have a letter soon, this evening, perhaps.
So, Hassan, be quiet ; you are so restless,
" Like his master," muttered Douglas,
under his moustache ; but she heard him,
and the shadow that lay in her dark eyes
deepened. His suffering stabbed her. She
reined Hassan in closer as Miss Neville
"I suppose, Mr Douglas, when your people
return home, they will bring a houseful of
guests with them, or after them ? "
Glen - Luna shivered, but answered
*' Perhaps they will, and I suppose that I
shall have to obey my tyrant there. Shall
w^e see you again soon. Sister Rose ? "
" I think you must be tired of me — "
" Of you ! Oh, no ; how dare you hint
3 2 Hydra.
such a thing ? You don't deserve any music
for a month ; so addio till you come."
So they took leave and were off again,
the Arab tossing his head and bounding for-
wards in a manner that did not look as if
twenty miles had given him much taste for
his stable, or any idea that his rider's firm
hand might possibly be tired.
" There they go," commented Mrs Win-
stanley ; '* dear me ! How can people be so
blind ? I dare say he's a perfect slave to
every caprice. / don't know what the world
is coming to, I'm sure."
" I hope he didn't see us, my dear ? " said
Mrs Orde, in some alarm ; ** I saw him, as
they drove off, glance this way, and then
evidently say something to that creature,
for she laughed. Ugh ! I don't believe the
woman cares one stone what all Dpring may
say of her. But her proud scorn will have
a fall yet, take my word for it, my dear."
How very Christian we do feel over the
contemplated judgment so richly deserved
by some especially inimical sinner. I am
quite certain that if you could tiave played
the rtle of Le Diable Boiteu that night, you
would have found Mrs Doctor Orde in a
state of fierce righteousness reading the 69th
Psalm, and thanking God that she was not
as other men, or women !
I really wonder if the ancients symbolised
scandal by the story of the Hydra. That
masterly thinker. Lord Bacon, finds a pro-
found and subtle depth of meaning in most
of the classic creeds and legends, in which
the majority of minds read only a graceful
fable, or at most a surface allegory. Nor,
I humbly submit, is it fair to those same
wondrous classics of Greece and Kome, who
are, after all, the corner-stone of civilisation,
to say that Bacon's great intellect infused
its own wisdom into the ancient lore, and
gave to it a profundity of which its authors
never dreamed ; rather is it that it takes a
great mind to thoroughly read a great mind.
*'Two of the Hydra's heads up there,"
VOL. II. C
Douglas had said in French, " gossiping our
heads off, I'll swear."
At which Albany's wife laughed in scorn-
ful amusement and haughty disdain. She
had felt the sharp sting of the scorpion
itself, and this country town snapping was
a mere shadow of the reality. She knew
well that "they talked her head off," for
scandal reaches us like the air we breathe.
Did not the very corn spring up and wave
out the news that King Midas had got ass's
ears ? It might distress Rose Neville to
know how those village coteries overhauled
the doings and inmates of the Hall, but the
one it most touched cared nothing. She
had higher, dearer interests at heart, and
nothing could shake her hold of the standard
she had grasped in her firm right hand.
That evening's post brought several letters,
two of which were for Gabrielle, — one from
Lady Glen -Luna, the other she saw was
from good little Mrs May.
" Dear Mrs Albany and Douglas," began
Hydra. 3 5
Adeline, '' I send you a joint epistle, with
full account of our doings and plans. I
suppose you will spoil my dear boy by
reading this aloud while he lies in an atmo-
sphere of flowers."
" Ma foi, not so far out, is she 1 " said
Douglas, lazily, one arm under his head as
he lay at full length, after so long a drive in
a more upright position ; " it is not every
fellow who has the luck to have such a
reader either, for
' Like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me.' "
" I wonder if you. Sir Knight, could speak
twenty sentences to a woman without trip-
ping ofl" a flowery compliment ? "
" Of course not," said he, coolly, opening
his great grey eyes wide with the most
wicked look. " I warned you, my dear
Gabrielle, that I should have to make all
the pretty speeches to you, as there was no
one else, and you gave me leave — "
" Tres hien, monsieur, but you will have
others soon to divide favours with me."
" I don't want any others," he said, with
a quickness that made her smile, though a
faint colour had crossed her cheek.
"Do you know that you said that so
like a child who hurriedly asserts he is
quite well the moment mamma talks of
j)hysic, that I cannot help laughing."
" Laugh away, sweet Gabrielle, but it is
physic, for all your sweet coaxing me that
it is only le premier pas qui coute. Still,
if you bade me take poison I should do it."
" Vraiment ! I shall not, I hope, put
your knightly chivalry to quite such a
severe test. Perhaps you will listen now
with due respect to your belle -mere's
" Don't be sarcastic, fair dame. I am
all attention. I suppose that little arrant
coquette of a sister of mine is flirting
no end with her new beau, Cliff'ord
" I dare say," was the serene reply. "I
see his name." Which came in pretty soon
amongst the guests whom the writer said
she had asked for the autumn. "Also
Lady Constance Lee, and lovely Hyacinth,
whom you, dear boy, used to admire so
"" Of course I did," remarked the " dear
boy," playing with his soft moustache, and
his glance still resting, under the long,
heavy lashes, on the beautiful face before
him. "She was lovely enough to be
admired, and charming enough to flirt
with. We were the best of friends, but
— I don't care to see her here now."
^' Fie donc^ Jie done, mon ami!" said
voice and uplifted finger ; but he laughed.
" I don't, scold me as you like."
** You know you deserve it, just for your
wicked look of rebellion. Listen to the
rest of the letter, sir, if you please."
" I'm all attention, madame."
So he was. The remainder had a good
deal to say about Mr Brandon, in praise.
He was handsome, very well born and
connected, and rich — "
^*And," supplemented the incorrigible
Douglas, " the belle-mere thinks he's quite
a good ][>aTti for Jessie. I wonder who
or what on earth this Clifford Brandon
is ! " he said, with a slight change of
manner. *'I never heard such a name in
society. The Eosslyns should know cer-
tainly, but, still — well, we shall see."
He moved restlessly, and Gabrielle said
'' You must not fret yourself about Jessie
or her possible suitor. Her mother surely
loves her at least, and will be careful."
*' She ought to ; I suppose it's all right."
Still he was disturbed, she saw, and
quietly putting Mrs May's letter into her
pocket, went to the piano to charm away
anxiety with Mendelssohn and Schumann.
M A R I U S.
HEN Gabrielle Albany was alone
in her room that night she
^M^^ opened Mrs May's letter, which
began by apologising for not having written
a month ago, when the man came, and then
went on to tell her in a very fairly-worded
detail about the visit of the stranger, not
omitting the final fillip, " that she believed
he was nothing better than Mrs Albany's
scamp of a husband." The little woman
described him, too, very tolerably, for a
person of her class ; for the uneducated
especially fail in the capability of descrip-
tion. " He was handsome-like, very dark-
ishly disposed, with only a thick moustache,
and tall, with figure according."
G-abrielle dropped the letter, and sat with
her head resting on her hands, dumb,
motionless, with a strange, dim sense of
darkness creeping over her, such as one
feels in a dream, which she could not at
first define, or lay hold of, or combat.
Why, in Heaven's name, did Leicester
want to know where she was ? Was the
foul lie he told Mrs May the beginning,
the foundation-stone, of a whole scheme ?
Did he mean to actually make a desperate
attempt to shake ofi" the marriage by the
aid of an appeal to law, w^hich he must
know would be futile, or did he only want
to make sure she was well out of his
way — abroad, perhaps — before he attempted
to put into execution the plans she was sure
he had formed, and which she had warned
him she would foil, at whatever cost to her-
To herself — but what if he found her out
here, and drove her away, made them be-
lieve that she was a wife who had indeed
broken every vow, and flung honour and
womanhood from her. Ah me ! Why at the
thought does she draw such a sudden sharp
breath, and press both those slender hands
on her bosom ; will that still the wild throbs
of the poor passionate heart that has passed
so insidiously, so completely out of her
keeping or control ; or crush out such fierce
agony as even she in all her miserable life
has never known till now. She cannot,
does not even try to deceive herself, but
faces the bitter, terrible truth, as she has
done every other danger in her gloomy
path ; she has known it vaguely before this,
but still, like death, it comes suddenly after
all. She was only a woman, a passionate,
noble, loving woman, whose full immeasur-
able power of love had never been touched
or reached till now ; till this Douglas, gifted
with every gift that wins, surrounded with
every circumstance that must perforce ap-
peal at once to her deepest, tenderest
sympathy ; thrown even more absolutely
lately on her care, dependent on her for
his hope of recovery, even for the safety
of his life she knew. She had been less,
or more, than human to resist the sweep-
ing tide that had set in with such terrible
force against her. Wring the white hands
in passionate, voiceless agony ; cover the
deathlike face in bitterest shame and woe,
for she knows now that, fight the cruel
battle outwardly as she may, her very
heart has betrayed her at last ; that she,
proud woman, who never loved before,
wedded wife, God help her ! loves Douglas
Glen- Luna with all the force and deathless
faith of her strong impassioned soul. It is
too late to crush it under foot, she is single-
handed, weighted too cruelly in the self-
conflict, for there is not, cannot be, the
least moral power to aid her in such a
terrible marriage as that which binds her
to such a man as Leicester Albany, who had
sold her honour for gold, and held it lightly
indeed almost from the day he wedded her,
a child scarcely sixteen. She cannot, will
not, fly the hourly misery in which there
lies too unconsciously such a dangerous,
" No," she mutters with stern self-sacri-
fice ; " come what may I will never leave
him as long as I am necessary. What
matters that I sufl'er ! I can dare all, bear
all, for thee, Douglas — my heart, my one
only love ! Oh my God ! is this sin ?
How could I help it ! how could I help
it ! Help me in this battle ! "
The poor heart's cry of more than mortal
agony ! this wild prayer of the pure, loyal
woman's very soul that shrank in terror
and horror from the mere shadow of sin
Still self- suppression, guard, control, the
watchwords of her troubled, tempest-tossed,
most sorrowful life, scarcely yet counting
twenty-five years, with all the dreary waste
of heart-broken years stretching away in
darkness before her, only the wrecks of
what should have been home and happi-
ness around her, like Marius amongst the
desolate ruins of Carthage ; yet still in all,
through all, this grand, high-souled woman
never dreamed of surrender to her own
heart, never, coward-like, asked for one
moment for death to end her misery, but
only prayed for strength to still struggle
against the tide, power to endure unto
the end in purity as untainted in heart
as in deed.
And surely, oh surely, we know that
such a cry God heareth ; such prayers
OVER THEIR FIVE o'CLOCK.
WO fair girls lounging " at ease "
over their five o'clock, sipping
tea out of the tiniest, most
dainty pieces of Sevres that could be dis-
tinguished by the name of cups at all, the
hat and gloves of one lying on a spider-like
chair near her ; the other, evidently
hostess, lazily balancing herself, chair and
all, as her glance went round the elegant
" So Jessie," she said, " we are to be
amongst your autumn guests this year,
my mammy says ; how very jolly ! "
" You are coming, then ; you have
46 Over their Five d Clock.
accepted mamma's invitation ? " exclaimed
"Accepted," repeated Hyacinth Lee, open-
ing wide lier very blue eyes, that had in
truth given her her name, "of course we have,
my dear. Who else are coming, Jessie ? "
" Let me see, not such a very large party,
because mamma says it might be too much
for Douglas, though I don't suppose that he
and his own people will be seen beyond the
Hyacinth stifled a sigh behind her hand-
kerchief, and repeated lazily, —
*' His own people."
" Yes, of course ; he has everything ex-
actly as he likes. He has the west wing
entirely, and his own servants, and Harford
— you remember his courier ? — and lately
his secretary, and of course always his own
carriages and horses."
" And won't his secretary sometimes make
his appearance ? " asked Hyacinth, replenish-
ing her cup.
Over their Five d Clock. 47
" He's a shel' cried Jessie, bursting into a
merry laugh — '' a married lady."
''- Oh " — Miss Hyacinth's eyes opened wide
— " poor fellow ! is he consigned to the care
of some old frump who wears tight caps
and bonnets of the year 1 ? I'm certain he
couldn't endure such a creature about him."
Jessie nearly choked with laughter at the
absolute opposite this picture was to the
original, but it instantly popped into her
head that there might perhaps be some fun
got out of it, if she kept up the hoax Hya-
cinth had in fact put upon herself, so she
said, still laughing, —
" Well, I dare say he'd prefer a stylish,
handsome woman of four or five and twenty
as a companion and sort of nurse when he's
ill ; but still he and madame are capital
friends, bonnets and all included. If he
didn't like her, he could send her away."
" But you said ' married,' " said Hyacinth,
a little puzzled by Jessie's manner ; "■ where
is this Madame Frump's husband ? "
48 Over their Five d Clock.
" Oh, she's separated, of course ; treated
her like a brute, and so she left him some-
where in California and got a legal separa-
tion. Mamma found the whole report of
the case in an old paper some while ago.
Then you'll see her, I dare say, when you
come. You asked who else ? " rattled Jessie,
afraid that her face would betray some joke
if she did not shelve off the dangerous
ground. " Well, first and foremost, the
** Yes, they're all jolly ; and Fred Saltoun
is such a lady's man. Then there's Percy
" Pretty dear," put in Hyacinth, her nose
in the air ; " dances well, though not within
twenty degrees of what your poor brother
used to do. Well, who else, dear ? "
" Oh, why, Mr Brandon," returned Jessie,
with slightly heightened colour, and the true
coquette's little toss of the head.
Hyacinth's eyes twinkled.
Over their Five 6 Clock. 49
*' Of course," said she, *' he'll be in the
seventh heaven. Keally, it was quite a
romantic meeting. I'm so sick of being in-
troduced to people ! Aren't you, Jessie ? "
Jessie nodded. She liked handsome,
dashing Clifford Brandon to be considered
the captive of her bow and spear. Certainly
his attentions to her had been sufficiently
marked to entitle the little flirt to consider
him so. I am afraid she was too like her
mother to be much in love with anybody,
certainly not beyond a "limited liability"
sort of way that would not be very heart-
" And then," she added, " there are some
capital people about, and even in Doring.
There is Douglas's physician who was called
in when the lift broke — Dr Neville, a London
man — and his sister."
" Oh, oh," said Miss Hyacinth, signifi-
cantly, — " young, is she ? "
" Only fifty, my dear. Oh, Douglas
couldn't flirt with her."
VOL. II. D
50 Over their Five d Clock,
" I think my mammy is quite right," said
she ; " it's high time you and I got married
and settled down. I think you'll be the
first to set an example, my dear. I'll ask
Madame Frump's advice when I see
" Hem ! " said Jessie, sagely, " I don't
think she would advise people to marry
at all. Her own experience has been about
the worst I ever heard of. Why, her
wretch of a husband, actually in — California
— sold her — gambled her away to a fellow,
and she shot him and escaped. We read
it in the old paper."
" Horrible ! " exclaimed Hyacinth, almost
incredulous ; " but she must surely, then,
have been pretty when she was young % "
" I suppose so," Jessie's lip gave again,
and she rose ; '* but anyhow, whichever
of us two marries first, the other must be
" All right. Must you go ? Good-bye.
Over their Five d Clock, 51
Don't give Clifford Brandon more than
three round dances to-night, now."
And so jesting, the two parted. Neither
cared especially for the other, but Jessie
wanted some one to take Saltoun off her
hands. Hyacinth, however, had her own
bit of fun in view.
UNIVERSITY OF JIUNOIS
THE FANCY AND THE REALITY.
S the florist tends and watches the
rarest, tenderest, most beautiful
of his flowers, so Chandos Neville
watched and tended his most precious
charge day by day, as the time glided by
and the end of July came near — watched
with an anxiety only surpassed by that
of the woman who loved Douglas Glen-
Luna. Under their hands he progressed
steadily, if slowly, and with some fluctua-
tions, but clever Dr Neville had never in
his life been more right than when he
set such absolutely unmeasured store by
the tireless care and limitless influence of
The Fancy and the Reality. 53
the grand-hearted woman without whose
hourly and intimate mental as well as
physical co-operation, the physician still
openly said, his own work would have
been a very hopeless struggle against head
wind and strong tide. As it was, he now
affirmed with quiet confidence that not only
was his charge gaining strength and tha*"
vitality on which so much depended, but
he, the physician, was slowly and surely
mastering the very core of the actual injury
done. As to Harford, he told Mrs Albany
flat that his master was quite another being
since she had come.
" Only," he added anxiously, and with
his characteristic respectful familiarity, '* we
shall have to be very careful that my lady
does not find that out, Mrs Albany, or she
will try to get rid of you."
Gabrielle Albany looked straight into the
man's eyes, and said quietly —
"I think, Harford, that that is beyond
her power now."
54 The Fancy and the Reality,
Harford had paused at tlie open door of
her sitting-room, near the middle table of
which she stood. He came right inside the
room, and said between his teeth, —
" Pardon me, do you think you quite
know what a little devil she is ? "
" I think I do, Harford."
" Ay, Mrs Albany, but I mean — do you
know that she would use the weapons which
only such a woman can use against a
woman placed as you are here — weapons
from which even you might well shrink
and give way ? "
The blood flushed over her very brow
for a moment, knowing so well what he
meant ; it was the tribute sensitive woman-
hood wrung from the noble strength that
could endure, suffer, dare all, all for
Douglas's sake ; but she laid her firm hand,
that scarcely looked as if it could give
such an iron grasp, on his arm, and said
'* I might, perhaps, shrink ; I am a
The Fancy and the Reality. 55
woman, but before Heaven I swear I will
never give way. If you knew all I have
gone through, all I have suffered and dared,
you would not fear my failing now for one
" You are a noble woman, Mrs Albany."
There was dead silence for a minute,
then Harford said, with a deep-drawn
" So they are really coming down on
Thursday, Mrs Albany?"
" Yes ; and the first of the guests on
Saturday, Lady Constance and Miss Lee."
" Miss Lee — here ! " said the courier
quickly and suspiciously ; ** what can be
Lady Glen-Luna s motive ? She used to
be frightened to death that the master
would marry Miss Hyacinth Lee ; I know
she was. I saw through her fast enough,
and so did Mr Douglas. She thinks the
danger is past, I suppose, though there
never was any, I fancy. Mrs Albany,
when all these people come, do you and
56 The Fancy and the Reality.
Dr Neville mean the master to go down
amongst them actually, or — "
" Yes, Harford, sometimes, drive with
them when there is a party going, be in the
salon in the evening, and so on."
" But not without you," said Harford,
eagerly ; " not unless you are with him ? "
Gabrielle looked up and smiled.
" No, I shall be with him — in his car-
riage — in the room. One feels the moment
she is in the house again as if one must be
on guard at every point, and suspect her
*' That's exactly my feeling, Mrs Albany.
I wish to Heaven we could take him
Mrs Albany shook her head.
*'He is not strong enough to bear the
journey now. The inevitable fatigue and
jolting would be ruinous at present. In
another two months, or perhaps even less,
it might be possible, but not now."
" Well, of course, madam, you and the
The Fancy and the Reality. 57
doctor know best, but I wish she would
take into her head to go abroad, only I
don't think Sir Arthur would 2:0 for long;."
And with that wish Harford withdrew.
There was another very strong wish in
the man's heart which he could not utter.
On the Thursday evening the family came
down, and you may be sure that the Doring
coteries had plenty to gossip about over their
Friday five o'clocks, how they all looked,
what they had done, whether they would
" show " at the archery meeting, the cricket
match, the rifle contest at the new butts,
how Lady Glen-Luna had driven through
the town and looked as charming as ever,
and how, of course, that fast Mrs Albany
wouldn't be able to have it all quite so
much her own way, and those Nevilles
would find they couldn't either ; all of which
floated to the ears of " those Nevilles," and
highly amused them.
"Poor Mrs Albany's great off'ence," said
the doctor laughing, " appearing to be her
58 The Fancy and the Reality.
beauty and graceful aire de grande duchesses
and the fact that she drives Mr Glen-Luna's
own favourite horses, rides his own Arabian,
and comes to church in his own park phae-
ton attended by his own groom. Ugh, the
spiteful toads ! it's nothing but jealousy "
— to which Sister Rose fully agreed — of
course, if Gabrielle were to care or fret
herself about these stupid people she had
better throw up her situation at once, be-
cause the very essence of it was to be the
constant attendant and companion of Sir
Arthur s son.
The Lees arrived in time for dinner on
the Saturday, and Jessie, who, as there was
no one yet to flirt with, thought she might
as well see the end of her joke, begged her
mother — whom she had primed — to send
and ask Mrs Albany to come down that
evening. But Miss Jessie was doomed not
to see the result of her joke so soon, for Mrs
Albany sent back her compliments, but she
was sorry to say Mr Glen-Luna was not
The Fancy and the Reality. 59
quite so well this evening, and she could
not leave him. A message and fact of
which Mr Glen-Luna himself was happily
ignorant, and which Lady Glen-Luna re-
ceived from Harford with a sigh, and sadly
" My poor boy " — that made the courier
retire biting his lip, half angry, half amused,
at the hypocrisy that was to him so thin a
The little party in the drawing-room
broke up early, for Lady Constance and
Hyacinth were both tired and were glad to
retire to their rooms. To inquiries about
Douglas, Adeline only said he was much the
same, never had seen any one since his
accident, and she did not think he would
be induced to do so now ; certainly not yet
Lovely Hyacinth Lee was the first in the
breakfast-room the next morning, and, as
no one was there, and the open French
window and beautiful grounds without
6o The Fancy and the Reality.
looked too tempting to be resisted, the girl
threw up her pretty head to catch the
breeze, laden with the sweet scent of flowers
and river air, and ran out over the lawn
towards the belt of rich wooding that lay
beyond, till suddenly she was brought up
all standing, with a little half-startled cry,
by an immense collie dog bouncing excitedly
about her, just, of course, because she was
" Angus, you bad dog ! " called a rich
voice, as clear as a bell, " how dare you be
so rude, sir ? Come back."
And as Angus bounded off, out from the
trees towards the astonished and admiring
girl came the tall, slight form of the most
beautiful woman she had ever seen.
" I hope the dog has not done more
than startle you ? " she said, courteously,
as she reached Hyacinth.
" Oh no, thank you, madame." Hyacinth
was wondering who this handsome foreigner
could be. She had heard of no other guest
The Fancy and the Reality, 6 1
yet. " I am fond of dogs ; and what a
beauty he is."
"Is he not, Miss Lee ? — pardon — I
guessed who you were, and he is as wild as
a March hare ; only being three years old
too, I think Angus is wonderfully good;
we have just come back from the early
Celebration at St Agnes's Church, and he
lies quietly down in the porch till I come
" What a darling dog ; Angus you call
him — for I suppose you are his mistress ? "
"Well, not exactly; he belongs to Mr
Glen-Luna," returned Grabrielle.
" Does he ? Isn't it dreadful that there
does not seem any chance of his ever getting
well? His life must be so miserable, so
dull, so crushed," said Hyacinth, with tears
in her eyes, " and Jessie says, I understood
her so in town, that his companion is an
old frump, who — ah, you are laughing at
"A thousand pardons, Miss Lee, I did
62 The Fancy and the Reality,
not know his secretary, or nurse, or what-
ever they call her, was elderly."
" Oh, yes, I assure you Jessie Glen-Luna
said so — that she was an old frump who
wore bonnets of the year 1."
"Well, of course Miss Glen-Luna must
know best," said Mrs Albany, demurely,
seeing exactly what the joke was, and en-
joying it, " but I should hardly think * an
old frump' a very lively or welcome com-
panion for a young fellow of thirty."
" No, certainly not, and especially such a
cavalier fellow as Douglas Glen-Luna always
was," said Hyacinth ; "I suppose you have
never seen him, as he sees no one ?."
"I have seen him very often, though,
Miss Lee, and his secretary too."
" Have you, madame ? " Hyacinth's blue
eyes opened wide. " Then I was right, for
I thought you were a guest, though Jessie
said we were the first."
" I have been stopping here some time
now," answered Gabrielle, with. Hyacinth
The Fancy and the Reality, 63
thought, a rather odd smile; *'you may,
perhaps, have heard my name — Albany —
Mrs Leicester Albany."
**I never have, Mrs Albany, but I am
most happy to have met you in a manner
out of the beaten track. Here comes Jessie !
Too late for introducing ! Why, Jessie,
what are you laughing about so much ? "
For Jessie broke out irresistibly as she
saw the two together, and now Mrs Albany
was laughing too.
" Too late, Jessie ! Miss Lee and I have
already made acquaintance. Au revoir !
Your breakfast bell is ringing, and I must
go to your brother, who is waiting my re-
turn. Come, Angus."
" But — I don't quite — go to — oh, what a
shame, Jessie ! " exclaimed Hyacinth, with
a peal of laughter. " Mrs Albany, you
are the secretary after all ! "
Mrs Albany swept a low bow.
" The old frump ! Miss Lee toute
64 The Fancy and the Reality.
" Oh, it was too bad of you, Jessie, to tell
me that Mrs Albany — "
" I didn't tell you, my dear ; you sug-
gested it, and I only agreed," interrupted
Jessie, delighted. "Mrs Albany answers
the description exactly, only in an inverse
ratio. Yours was the fancy — this lady the
" Pray don't distress yourself. Miss Lee,"
said Gabrielle, " I saw the joke directly, and
have enjoyed it. May I tell Mr Glen-Luna ?
It will amuse him ! "
"Tell him; yes, do. I should think it
would amuse him, indeed ! Shall I not see
you again to-day, Mrs. Albany ? "
" I do not think so, Miss Lee. I live, you
see, in the west wing, and I seldom leave
Mr Glen-Luna very long alone. Good-bye
for the present."
She shook hands, whistled to Angus, and
turned off to the west wing.
" Frump, indeed ! " said Hyacinth ; *' she
is hardly five-and-twenty, and a woman for
The Fancy and the Reality. 65
the men to rave about. Good heaven I Her
husband must have been a perfect fiend to
have treated her as you said."
" Perhaps she was in fault," returned
Jessie. " She's got a will of her own. She
was none of the meek wives, I'm certain."
" So much the better," retorted Hyacinth,
tossing her head with proper truculence ;
" if women had compiled the marriage ser-
vice, I'm thinking the ' obey ' business would
run the other way. / wouldn't 'obey,'
forsooth ! "
" If you were in love, dear, you would
think it a pleasure," said Jessie, sentimen-
" Bosh ! " returned Miss Hyacinth, in high
scorn ; " don't be silly, Jessie ; you may
think men angels, if you like. I don't, and
I don't suspect Mrs Albany does."
It would be strange indeed if she had —
Leicester Albany's wife.
LEICESTER ALBANY EN VOYAGE — NOT ALL
^EICESTEE ALBANY was cer-
tainly a very clever man, and
a man of very considerable
resources ; but it is questionable whether
he would have deliberately gone, knowing
she was there, into the very house in
which his wife was. For, although he
possessed that almost unlimited brazen
impudence and self-reliant conceit which
generally characterises men of his stamp,
he would hardly have walked with open
eyes on to such dangerous ground ; for
he feared his wife, despite his defiance —
Leicester Albany en Voyage, 6 J
feared her stern threat that she would
foil him. Still, after what she herself
declared, how could she possibly prove
his identity with her husband when she
had destroyed every likeness, every writing,
every vestige that could remind her of
him ? Indeed, if she made the charge at
any time, he could give to her claim a
very ugly colouring indeed, which would
not hurt him, while it would be ruinous
to her wherever she was. So he flung,
care to the winds, and made up his mind,
as he said, to "go in and win."
Jessie was de facto an heiress, for the
frail life of a crippled brother was not
much of an obstacle ; and besides, he
argued, he could not be too particular as
to his selection ; quite ready-made heiresses
were not as plentiful as roses in June, and
papas and mammas, or guardians of such
rich ripe fruit, had an uncomfortable way
of inquiring very closely into the ante-
cedents and means of suitors, which scrutiny
68 Leicester Albany en Voyage,
the soi-disant Mr Clifford Brandon scarcely
cared to court. Not that his present iden-
tity was absolutely taken up haphazard.
Oh dear, no ; he was far too wideawake
a gentleman for that. He had, in his
adventurer's life, before his marriage, come
across, in America, a man of his own age,
bearing the name of Clifford Brandon, and
belonging distantly to a good family. This
young fellow had died in an out-west city,
and his people, if even they had ever
seen him, certainly neither knew nor cared
whether he were living or dead. So that
now, if his assumed antecedents were chal-
lenged, he could claim or disclaim, as best
suited him, connection with the Brandons
of — shire.
Another reason for selecting Jessie as
the heiress for his scheme was the footing
his good luck had given him, and that
he soon saw that she was one of those
sentimental flirts who, if he could get her
to fall in love with him (not a hard task
Leicester Albany en Voyage. 69
either, as her falling in love went), he
could persuade her to elope, perhaps, if
mamrna frowned when it came to the pro-
posal, or if his own wronged and haughty
wife " crossed his tracks," as he expressed
it. And then Jessie was really such a
deuced pretty, charming little thing, that
it was no such bad prospect. Few men
knew better than Leicester Albany exactly
how to play his cards with the ordinary
run of women, especially flirts. It was
such a woman as Gabrielle who puzzled —
posed — him. To Jessie he had, while in
town, paid just that happy mean of atten-
tion which, while suifering her to feel that
he was ej^ris, was not sufficiently marked
overtly to attract undue notice from the
society in which they moved, though
club and five o'clock gossip credited Cliff".
Brandon with being a very decided admirer
of "little Jessie Glen-Luna," and no one
was surprised when it was understood that
he joined the circle at Luna Park the
7o Leicester Albany en Voyage,
Monday after the family had returned
The statement with which he had come
into the magic ring called " society " was
strictly true. An aunt had left him a
fortune, but it belonged to the past — not
the present. He had come into a large
fortune in money from this aunt at twenty-
one ; by the time he was thirty, when he
saw, fell in love with, and married young
Gabrielle Morville, he had squandered fully
half the fortune, and the rest followed in
the next seven years. He best knew how
he had got the money on which he was
now playing so bold a game to reinstate
himself again, but that he had obtained
a good supply, and had so managed that
his resources would stand a fair investi-
gation from papa Glen-Luna, and even the
farce of a settlement is certain. It is
astonishing what we can do if we only
completely throw aside that tiresome " ob-
structive " conscience. And certainly our
Leicester Albany en Voyage. 71
very worthy friend had none of that. At
the core, the man was a heartless roue,
under the outward gloss, a gladiator capable
of almost any deed which passion or inter-
est made expedient. Is it a wonder that
to such a man his hapless wife had declared
that she would not, even if she could, set
him free to wreck another life as he had hers.
He was to have gone down in time for
luncheon, but somehow missed it — men are
sometimes unpunctual as well as women —
and so he lunched at the station, and went
down by the next train, that reached Doring
No carriage from the Hall was waiting,
but when the porter saw the name and
address on the luggage he informed its
owner that a groom with the dogcart had
been to meet the other train, and had left a
message that he should meet this one.
" He's only a little mistook the time, sir,"
added the man, " and if you'd please wait
a few minutes he can't be long."
72 Leicester Albany en Voyage,
" Thanks," answered Albany, " but, as it
is such a lovely day and country, I will
walk on, and the dogcart can transport my
The porter directed him to the park, and
he left the station at an easy pace, lighting
a cigar as he went.
He soon found his way into the broad
Doring road, from which he got a glimpse
of the river, and on the other side, through
and over the hedges, lovely bits of that
extremity of Luna Park ; not that Leicester
Albany appreciated either, though he often
affected an admiration for scenery and trees.
He had walked some little way, and had
begun to wonder where the road turning off
to the gates was, when he heard the roll of
— ^unmistakably — carriage wheels and tramp
of horses' feet coming on behind, and, turn-
ing, saw a cloud of dust.
" Confound it," muttered Albany, "what
an awful dust ! "
He stepped on to the grass, and drew
Leicester Albany en Voyage, 73
right back against tlie liedge to windward
of the cloud, and the next minute an
immense collie dog dashed past him, then
an elegant low phaeton, drawn by the most
magnificent pair of chesnut horses, all silver
harnessed, that he had ever seen ; driven,
too, by a lady who sat beside a young man,
half reclining amongst a pile of crimson
cushions. His face was turned the other
way, and, if not, Albany would not have
seen it, for his gaze, startled but exultant,
was riveted on the driver, as the equipage,
followed by a mounted attendant, swept
*• By Heaven ! have I caught you out
at last, my immaculate wife ! " he muttered,
stepping out to watch the retreating car-
riage — ''ma parole! — kept in style, too,
while you're about it. Down here, some-
how, too. Jove ! that's dangerous ; I must
find you out and see what's to be done ; ha !
my scornful wife, where is your standpoint
now ? "
74 Leicester Albany en Voyage,
He walked on again, and in a few minutes
perceived an old hedger, just shouldering
his tools to leave his work. The old man
touched his hat to the gentleman, as is the
courteous fashion of the peasantry, and
'* Good evening, friend. Did you see
that carriage pass just now ? "
" Lord sir, yes," answered the old man,
in a slightly amused tone ; " they're out
driving and riding. Madame rides near
every day. Them's the master's pet blood
horses, sir, and young madame rides his
own Arabian, which is as handsome as her-
self, bless her."
A fierce thrill of jealousy shot through
the man's evil soul. He had flung away
the flower himself, but he could not bear
to think that another had gathered it.
" Indeed ! " he said, with an irrepressible
sneer, " and who or what is madame and
the master ? "
The truth never struck him; so had he
Leicester Albany en Voyage, 75
got it into his head that Sir Arthur's son
was a miserable cripple.
The old man stared. To him it argued
extraordinary ignorance not to know who
" the master " was.
" Why, sir, the master is the master —
Mr Douglas Glen-Luna — and madame is
Mrs Albany, his secretary. My lady and
all trusts everything to her. Ah ! she is
the sweetest young lady, sir."
" The devil ! " came between Leicester's
set teeth, and for a moment trees, and road,
and sky above seemed as a mist before his
eyes, so completely was he taken aback by
the discovery that the very last woman he
would have had near him now was actually
under the same roof to which he was going ;
his ready wit and thought were completely
staggered, and it was a minute before the
livid lips could even frame a question.
" I suppose, then, that this Mrs Albany
dines with the family — is treated quite
like a friend ? "
"j^ Leicester Albany en Voyage.
" Lord, yes, sir ; ye see, sir, I often
works in the garden, 'cause the head
gardener knows I'm past heavy work,
and he gives me a job, and that's how
I hear a deal about the Hall gentry.
Mrs Albany ain't with the family much,
though, 'cause she lives in the left wing
along with the rest of Mr Douglas's people.
He lives there, ye see, sir, and she's
always with him — no one else."
" But, my good man, I understood that
Mr Glen-Luna was so nearly crushed in
the accident, — that he was a mere wreck."
" Did ye, sir ? Dear, dear, only to think
now. Well, then, he's the most sound
bi-eautifulest 'wreck' as ever I see."
" And," added Albany, " that he was
dying by inches ? "
" God forbid, sir ! He may be, in
course ; I ain't no scholard, and can't say
positive, but I never heerd that. It'd
break the old gentleman's heart to lose
Leicester Albany en Voyage. 77
" I suppose so, the only son. And has
this Mrs Albany been with him long ? "
"She came in May, sir."
"A widow, eh ? "
" No, sir ; the gardener telled me she was
separated from her husband."
'* Indeed ; and she doesn't, you say, leave
Mr Glen-Luna ? — doesn't, for instance, come
into the drawing-room in the evening ? "
" I don't fancy she do, sir ; but, in
course, I couldn't say. It's certain sure
she wouldn't be there long, 'cause she
belongs to the master's service, ye see,
Albany had got as much as he could
out of the old hedger, so he gave him a
shilling, and walked on.
Good heaven ! What should he do now ?
What step must he take ? Had she seen
him, and already told her companion who
he was ? What if she met him unan-
nounced, unexpectedly, in the house, before
others, and at once unmasked him ? He
78 Leicester Albany en Voyage,
must get a line, only a line, to her some
way ; but how, before night ?
" The devil is in it ! " he said aloud, with
a savage stamp of his foot. " I must find
out more when I reach the Hall, and if
she does show at all I must retire with a
headache. Get a letter to her I must.
Curse her ! "
Curses come home to roost, Mr Leicester
RECULER POUR MIEUX SAUTER.
F ever a man felt himself to be
walking on dangerous ground
now, that man was Leicester
Albany ; for although, as he walked
slowly on, he matured a scheme of war-
fare which he was certain must ensure his
young wife's silence, yet, with all his
unlimited self-assurance, there yet remained
in the background of his mind's picture
of safety an uncomfortable, vague, night-
mare sort of feeling that, win as he might
for the time, the woman who had stood
uncorrupted against his foulest vices — the
darkest temptations with which he had
8o '' Reculer pour Mieux SauterJ'
surrounded her — would somehow in the
end make good her stern menace.
'*Do what you will, I will foil you ! "
To turn back now would be to lose the
game before it was fairly begun, and such
a retreat never entered into his head. It
would be all right if he could get hold
of her before she saw him. Even then
he must write so that the note would not
identify him as her husband, which now
it was his whole cue to deny.
" And I do believe," he muttered, " that
I have got a blank envelope in my pocket-
book. What luck ; I'll look for it, so
that part of the business is easy."
He stopped and looked into the pocket
of his handsome pocket-book. Yes, there
it was ; or rather, they, for he found two
blank envelopes. One glance at his watch,
and Leicester Albany seated himself on the
bank by the roadside, wrote something in
pencil, carefully disguising his handwriting,
on a leaf of the book, tore it out, enclosed
^^Reculer pour Mieux Sauter." 8i
it, and in the same hand addressed it —
"Mrs Albany, care of Mrs May,
Street, W.C." Then he rubbed the letter
in the dust till it looked shady enough,
and, putting it into his pocket with a
smile of triumph, proceeded on his way.
His arrival at the Hall completed the
invited guests, for Percy Eosslyn and the
Saltouns had arrived by luncheon time.
" I shall scold the groom well for being
so late at the station, my dear Brandon,"
said Sir Arthur, as the latest guest ap-
peared in the drawing-room before dinner.
" Oh ! no, you really must not," returned
Albany ; '' especially as it not only gave me
a delightful walk, but has, I believe, enabled
me to be the means of restoring some pro-
perty to a lady ; that is," glancing inquir-
ingly at Jessie, near whom he was standing,
*' if any of you know whether in this neigh-
bourhood there is anyone named Albany,
I picked up a letter addressed — see, here
it is ! "
VOL. II. P
82 '' Reculer pour Mieux Sauter!'
"Why," exclaimed Jessie, "Mrs Albany
is my brother's secretary! That address is
where she lodged, isn't it, mamma? She
must have dropped it out. She was driving
with Douglas this afternoon."
" Shall I send it to her, Mr Brandon ? "
sweetly asked her ladyship, completely
hoaxed and unsuspicious, with her hand
on the bell.
"Thank you, dear Lady Glen-Luna, I
hope the lady has not yet discovered her
Here a footman noiselessly entered, and
received the soiled letter and a message.
" Lady Glen-Luna's compliments, and she
thought Mrs Albany must have dropped her
letter while driving, as one of the gentlemen
found it on his way to the Hall.
Was there to be no rest or peace for
Gabrielle Albany !
She had just completed dressing for din-
ner, and came into her own boudoir, when
the message and letter were given her.
"Reculer pour Mieux Sauter^ 83
The blood seemed to rush back on her
very heart, even as the long taper fingers
took the dusty envelope. There was no
definite thought or* suspicion, but simply
she knew at once that cramped odd hand
— in pencil too — was utterly strange to her,
and that she never had had, and therefore
never had dropped, such a letter.
"Thank you, James." How calmly she
spoke — even carelessly. "It is only an old
letter, but still, carry my compliments and,
thanks to the gentleman. Which of them
was it ? "
" I think, madam, it was Mr Brandon
who gave my lady the letter," James
answered, and retired.
Gabrielle stood for a minute, with locked
hands and breath drawn almost in gasps.
She saw at once what this letter — sent
under so cunning a subterfuge — really was,
and knew that the man to whom so heavy a
chain bound her had dared to put in force
a scheme which three words of hers could
84 ^^Reculer pour Mieux Sauterr
shatter like glass. Merciful Heaven ! and
this villain was under the same roof as her-
self, and worse — ten thousand times worse
— under the same roof as the man whose
life was dearer to her than her own, dearer
than all, save honour. Oh, how thankful
she was that this letter had not been given
under his keen glance, as she broke it open
and read — in that hand which she never
could have proved to be Albany's.
" I saw you drive past to-day, and I must
see you alone to-night ; till then keep silence
if you value life and honour. I will wait in
view of the west wing terrace till I see you
come out, and then follow to whatever spot
you lead the way."
If at that moment the writer of that
letter had stood before her, and a weapon
lain within her reach. Heaven only knows
what might have happened ; and yet, save
that she lifted her hands above her head, as
if in mute agony of passionate appeal, there
was little outward sign of the tempest within
'' Reculer pour Mietix SauterT 85
— such a tempest as, if yielded to for one
moment, must have swept down all control
and left traces which could not have escaped
the notice of Douglas Glen-Luna. Must
she ever crush heart and passion, and bitter
agony ! Could honour, brain, and soul for
ever bear the cruel pressure of this fierce
self- suppression, self- warfare ! Was there
sin in the very strength that came to her
now, disloyalty at heart in the voiceless,
passionate cry that went up — " For his
sake ! God ! for his sake I must, I wilf,
bear all ! dare all — even to the charge of
dishonour ! " Truly, if there was, the sin
lay on the head of the man who had broken
every vow, every bond, every moral tie that
It was easy for her to steal out when all
the house was still, and at rest, but to meet
him quite alone never even entered her
head. Faithful, and when required, most
formidable, Angus was, by design on the part
of his master's two attendants, left to sleep
86 '^ Reenter pour Mieux Sauter."
loose in the salon, with the door of the
corridor open, so that to take him with her
was as easy as to creep out herself. She
was safe enough, she knew, under such
guardianship. It crossed her how her
husband — a stranger to the mansion —
would get out and in undiscovered ; and,
in fact, that difficulty had occurred to him-
self, until shown his room to dress for
dinner, on his arrival, and there he found
that a strong trellis, covered with roses out-
side the window, would make a ready means
of egress and ingress.
It was an intensely still, dark night,
with scarce a breath of air to stir one leaf
of the stately forest trees which towered
in the gloom, like some monsters of a
dream, as Leicester Albany stole under the
shadow like the guilty thing he was, and
so skirted round to a sheltered spot which
commanded a full view of the west wing,
now as darkened as the rest of the massive
pile of building.
^' Reculer pour Miezix Sauter!' Z^
Did the man's thoughts go back nine
years, as he stood there in the ghostly
midnight hour ? Did memory recall a
bitter, dark, dreary winter s morning, when
he had waited under the gloomy school
wall with all a lover's impatience for his
mistress, all the roue's eager passion for
his newest toy, for the beautiful child
almost, barely sixteen, with whom he was
then so madly in love ? Did he remember
how, that morning, after the Church had
made that child his wedded wife for evei*,
he had held her in his arms and taken
Heaven to witness that his love and care
should never fail ? And how had he kept
that vow through all the long seven years
she had lived with him ? Did not one flash
of remorse or compunction stir him now,
as he stood there, bent on using the foulest
weapon man can use against a woman ?
No, not once ; his soul was a chaos of evil
passions, hate, and fear, and even a flash
now and again of his old base passion to
88 ^^ Reculer pour Mieux Sauter'^
make fuel for the fierce jealousy whicli ran /
through all. /
Watching like a tiger for its prey, hej
presently saw a dark robed figure com^
suddenly — it seemed from he knew not
where — on to the terrace, and pause, one
hand holding a huge dog by a short chain.
Albany started, with a savage muttered
" What the devil does the girl bring that
beast for ! I am her husband, after all —
curse the folly that made me so ! "
But, for all his angry fear of the dog,
he followed the dark figure as it flitted
on like a ghost through the gloom towards
the thicket of trees just in the boundary
between the gardens and the park.
Under those Gabrielle stopped, and stood
as white, as still, as beautiful as a classic
statue, till he drew near. Then Angus
suddenly crouched, as if to spring, with
such a savage growl and menacing show
of white teeth, that Albany started back.
^' Reculer pour Mieux SauterT 89
" Hold that damned beast in fast," he
said between his teeth, " for if he touches
me I'll throttle him."
" I advise you," she said coolly, " not to
so much as offer to even touch him or his
mistress ; for in the moment you do so I
will drop the chain I hold, and he would pull
you down like a reed. Do you think I
should be mad enough to meet you — you,
Leicester Albany — in this lonely spot at
midnight alone ? Quiet, Angus ; you must
wait my word, if it is needed. For you*,
speak at once and quickly, for I have
already held my peace too long ; but to-
morrow they shall all know who and what
they have in their house. I will unmask
the fine hawk they take for such a dove."
" And," said Leicester, folding his arms
on his broad breast, and looking her full
in the face with those bold, insolent black
eyes, "in so doing blast yourself."
** Ay ! " she answered with bitter scorn,
*' by avowing myself the wife of such a
90 '' Reenter pour Mieux Sauter^
thing as you ; but more than that is
beyond your power. You cannot, dare
not, deny our marriage ; for I have the
Albany laughed in sneering triumph.
" You are welcome to show it ! You
have the certificate of your marriage with
Leicester Albany ; but — where is he f "
" Where is he ? " Gabrielle repeated,
slowly, and her hand closed suddenly on
the dog's silver chain ; " standing before me
just now. Creeping into a noble house on
a false identity, to steal its daughter's
honour and peace. I know you, my
" By the Lord ! but I'll show you di-
rectly that you don't yet, though you are
beautiful enough to make a fellow glad to
claim you in one way, if he can't in another.
Look you ! you fled from Leicester Albany
in 'Frisco two years ago. You came here ;
got a separation ex parte ; destroyed every
line or likeness or vestige of your husband.
^^ Reenter pour Mieux Sauter^ 91
Those were your own words, you re-
Ay ! too well. The miserable woman
saw at once the terrible mistake, the fatal
admission, she had made ; but, though the
very blood seemed to freeze to ice in her
veins, she never lost her haughty, unflinch-
"Go on ! " she said, with stern brevity ;
but her free hand was pressed against her
" There is no one in England," Albany-
went on, deliberately, " and none that
you know of anywhere, who could or would
prove my identity. Whereas (for I did
not assume a mask haphazard, be sure) I
can very readily prove myself to be Clifford
Brandon. You threaten to go to Sir Arthur
and Lady Glen-Luna and strip that mask.
Oest a dire — you will swear that I am your
scamp of a husband, Leicester Albany."
'' I will swear to the truth," she answered,
in the same stern way. " I warned you
92 ^^ Reculer pour Mieux S aider!
that, if you tried this dastard scheme, I
would foil you, at whatever cost."
'' Ah fa ! — at whatever cost ; but what if
that cost were such hopeless disgrace to
yourself that you lost this, no doubt," with a
cruel sneer, " particularly pleasant, happy
berth ? Mr Douglas Glen -Luna would, of
course, feel the loss of his fair companion so
terribly that — "
" Keep to your point, you coward," she
broke in, with so fierce an accent and gesture
that Angus uttered another savage menace,
" and dare not to name with your shameful
lips a man who is to you as light is to the
very darkness of Hades. Keep to your
The dog had crouched down again at his
mistress's feet, laying his muzzle along be-
tween his paws, with his large, watchful
brown eyes fixed steadily on the enemy.
Leicester drew back a step, with almost a
shudder of deadly fear ; but he answered
Gabrielle at once.
'' Reenter potir Mieux Sauter^ 93
" I repeat, you would hardly like to lose
the singular situation you hold here ; but I
have no particular wish to cross your plea-
sure, if you are content to let me go mine
undisturbed. If you will exercise that very
clever brain of yours, you will see that,
having destroyed every letter, likeness,
paper — en Jin, every proof of my identity,
your threatened expose and claim to me as
your husband rests solely on your unsup-
ported word or oath. You cannot prove me
to be other that what I appear — Clifford
^' Two of the family, at least," she said, as
he paused, " will take my word before
yours. Of course, you will deny the charge.
I expected that."
" I will do more than that," he answered,
coming a step nearer, and dropping each
word one by one. " As surely as you tell
them who I am, so surely I swear — and if
ever man kept his oath I will keep this ! I
have arranged the whole story so as to fit —
94 ''Redder pour Mieux Sauter.''
that you, Gabrielle Albany, had claimed me
for the husband you knew to be really dead,
since, because finding you here, I, Clifford
Brandon, told you I would tell them what
you really were. I will swear that you had
been my mistress ! "
There was a silence after those last words
— dead, awful silence. She never moved
one hair's- breadth, or spoke or breathed ; but
stood there, looking at him — looking, look-
ing, with strange, dread, wide-open gaze in
the great dark eyes, as if she had looked
last on some awful thing of horror, and
died there where she stood — thought,
powers, the very scorn and tempest of
passions itself seemed stilled before this
last fell outrage, as the war of the wild
elements is sometimes subdued by the
wilder raging of the battle.
" My God ! Is this shape of humanity
before me man born of woman, or — devil
incarnate ! "
The passionate words came, awed and
"Reculer pour Mieux SauterT 95
hushed, under her breath ; and she put one
beautiful hand before her eyes, as if to shut
out some sight too pitiably painful to look
upon. From far off up the river came the
ceaseless music of the falling waters over
the weir, and nearer once or twice the
rustle of a leaf as some night bird fluttered
from bough to bough, and a little whispering
breeze stole like some ghost or avenging
spirit through the lofty trees ; it seemed as
if the very pall of night had lowered darker
yet over the sleeping world.
Leicester moved uneasily. He could
better have borne, better have met, a blaze
of passion — a fierce blast of scorn and wrath.
But this, this hurled him to an unmeasur-
able depth beneath passion or scorn ; it
scathed him like fire, and to break the
spell, he spoke, slowly, as before, watching
*' You know now what I will do ; and
more, I leave it to your quick wits and
imagination to foresee all I will add and
96 '' Reculer pour Mieux Sauter^
suggest, in the peculiar and anomalous
position you hold to the heir of Glen-
Ah ! there is that helpless charge, that
one being so dependent on her, whose re-
covery lay fully half in her hands, whose life
she knew^ too terribly was under her guardian-
ship, whom she had sworn before Heaven
not to leave, come what might ; whom, try
to crush it as she would, because she was
another man's loyal wife, she loved — in
him, Douglas Glen-Luna, lay at once her
strength and her weakness, her power to
bear and temporise even now ; and, like
Achilles's foot, her one vulnerable point.
In that silence the vital force of her
masculine mind, the noble power of her
woman's heart, had regained its steadfast
strength to meet and grasp the whole posi-
tion. She saw at once that this once, at
least at present, her husband was master of
the dangerous ground on which both stood,
that she was beaten back, and must yield
*^ Reculer pour Mieux SauterT 97
outwardly once and for all. Aut fer, aut
feri. She could not strike yet. She must
bear till she could, for the sake of that one
being so loved and so helpless !
"Well," said Leicester Albany, *' which
is it to be — peace or war ? Are we two,
Mrs Albany and Clifford Brandon, to meet
in this house as strangers — or, sometime
protector and mistress ? "
She turned upon him now with such
fierce passion and pitiless, withering scorfl
that the man actually recoiled.
" If the mother who bore you could have
foreseen this night she would surely have
hushed you to death on her breast, as I
would the child I bore you if God in His
mercy had not spared me such stern duty !
If she had lived to see this hour, she must
have cursed the hour that gave you birth,
as I do the first moment you saw this
miserable beauty of mine. Go your way.
We are strangers here, but God of Justice
above," she said, lifting her hand, upraised
VOL. II. G
gS ^^ Reculer pour Mieux Sautery
like some avenging prophetess of old, " hear
me, this man's most wronged, most miser-
able wife, call down upon his head Thy just
vengeance of his deeds ! "
" Gabrielle ! "
The dog sprang to his feet with an
absolute howl of ferocity at that excla-
mation, and reared up so suddenly, so
furious to leap on the man that, had the
hand that grasped the chain been less
strong, or the command, " Down, dear
Angus ! " less firm, Albany's chance of life
had been but slight. He started back as
his wife drew the noble animal closer to her
side, and said with livid lips, —
" If that cursed brute means to fly like
that, I warn you and your precious Douglas
to keep in your own rooms."
" I warn you," said Gabrielle, with a stern
menace that shook him, " that if harm comes
to either dog or master, neither your secret
nor your life shall be safe for one hour. Lay
that well to heart, Leicester Albany."
** Reculer pour Mieux Sauter" 99
She turned and glided away swiftly under
the trees, and mistress and dog were lost in
" But she is beaten this time, by Heaven!"
muttered Albany, moving slowly forward ;
** she is forced to yield at last, with all her
Was she ? fool and blind guide ! you for-
get the old wise saw, — " Reculer pour mieux
RAIN and heart racked, a fitful,
restless sleep that was the very
opposite of rest, and that ter-
rible waking with a dull, heavy sense of
anguish and weight which most of us have
experienced at some period — the feeling
that the day was to be got through, not
lived — that was Gabrielle Albany's awaken-
ing to another day, a most painful position
to maintain, a most difficult part to act out.
And yet, the moment she entered Douglas
Glen-Luna's presence, she seemed to pass at
once into another, brighter atmosphere, as
from darkness to light. But she noticed
that he was restless, unquiet, and when pre-
A ntagonis7n, i o I
sently the sound of many voices came wafted
in from the lovely gardens without, he turned
his curly head sharply from the window with
a quick, half-smothered —
" I cannot. I cannot ! "
A soft, firm hand on his shoulder, whose
touch vibrated along every chord of his
" Not even for your autocrat ? " said the
low, rich tones.
" Oh, Gabrielle, if you only knew how
I dread it ! " •
" Don't I know ? Don't I realise your
feelings as much as if I were a man my-
self ? " she answered, with a force all the
more intense from its suppression. " Don't
I exactly feel with you, for you ? Only
I know, all the more from your dread of
the very first step, how necessary it is that
the cordon of morbid sufiering should be
broken through once and for all. I know,
too, that it is the first break through which
is the worst, or, rather, that once faced it
I o 2 A ntagonism.
will prove half a shadow. It was no sin or
fault of yours, but an accident, and that
too, because you lost your chance of safety
to save a human life."
He turned his head to kiss the white
hand that lay on his shoulder, and lift dark
penitent eyes to hers.
" Dear Gabrielle, forgive your wayward
scapegrace charge, for the hundredth time
I cry peccavi."
" I suppose you must be forgiven," said
Mrs Albany, smiling. " Ah, there is Miss
Lee's sweet voice again ; what a lovely girl
she is. Now confess that you will be glad
to have a second recipient for your pretty
She had moved a little as she spoke to
pick a few of the rare flowers that scented
the air, and it was well that she did not see
the sudden flash in those dark eyes, or the
instant look of intense agony, the fierce
setting of the curved lips, and quick clench-
ing of the chiselled hand that followed.
A ntagonism, 1 03
Then he laughed a little and san
'* ' There be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like thee,
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me.'|
" I won't confess to anything but that,
especially as I mean it, and I am sure I
deserve that exquisite little button- hole you
have been gathering on purpose for me
as a reward — "
** For what, I wonder ? Your wicked-
ness ? " Gabrielle said lightly, as she bent
down to fasten the flowers in his button-
hole ; *' but I'll forgive you this time."
" Which is more than I deserve, your
tone says. I don't believe I shall really
make my peace with you until I have
passed the Eubicon and meet some of
" I am going to fetch your hat and mine,
and we will go out into the grounds. You
can trust me not to leave you to thei
tender mercies," she added, smiling, as
she left the room, ringing for Harford as
For one moment Douglas Glen-Luna
covered his eyes with his hand.
" Oh Gabrielle, my heart, my love ! it
is too late for me — only to save honour —
only to keep the secret locked here in this
heart. I dare not, ca?inot send thee from
me into the wide, harsh world again, God
help me ! I can bear all, suffer all, for
thee, and make no sign."
Ah me ! but the heart is still only human ;
can he guard every look, every throb,
almost every movement ! The prayer had
gone up with all the deep earnestness of
a noble faith, a spotless honour, that would
not wrong her honour — another man's wife
— or his by one breath, one passing thought,
and surely, surely such prayers for help
against dire temptation are heard !
There were no traces of emotion when
she came back ; but, as she wheeled his
A ntagonism. 105
chair to the lift, he said, with his ever
bright smile — for was not her mere presence
happiness, despite the suffering beneath ? —
" It has crossed me often, Gabrielle, how
odd it would be if ever I were to meet
again that man I saved in the accident."
They were descending in the lift now, as
she asked, —
" You would know him again, then ? "
** Oh, yes ; he got into the train as I
did at Dover. I remember, too, that I did
not like his face, though he was certaiijy
handsome. Here we are, safe at the bottom
— thanks, Harford — and here is Angus
waiting for us."
The collie bounded on through the open
hall door, and Gabrielle wheeled the chair
on to the terrace.
Douglas drew a breath of relief ; no one
was in sight from that point, nor did any
sound of voices reach their ears.
" They all seem to have disappeared,"
said Mrs Albany, quietly pushing the chair
I o6 A ntagontsm,
before her down the incline from the marble
terrace to the lawn, " but I suppose they
How inexpressibly she dreaded the first
meeting with her disguised husband, before
Glen-Luna's keen eyes, she only knew, but
it was Albany's powers of acting she dis-
trusted, not her own.
" Would you like to stop here ? " she
said, arresting the chair at a beautiful spot
just below the wide lawn, from which a
full view of the river spread before them.
" If you like it, I do, chere Gabrielle, a
lady's wish is law — Ha ! what is the matter,
Angus ? " — he interrupted himself suddenly,
as Jessie's clear treble, answered by a man's
deep tones coming on behind, caught their
ears, and the dog uttered that peculiar low,
deep growl which seems to vibrate on
the very air — " there is some one near
whom he dislikes ! who is it with Jessie,
Gabrielle ? "
She had flushed and grown ashen white
for a second as she stood behind him, but
she answered low and quickly—
" Hush, I don't know ; they are too near
to look round. Lie down, Angus."
Was the faithful animars true instinct
going to betray his mistress ? She shivered
as she saw his master's glance bent suspici-
ously on the dog, who lay exactly as he
had done last night at her feet, with
his nose between his paws and his eyes,
" Whoever it is," said Douglas under
his breath, ''he has seen him before, I'll
Before Gabrielle could reply, Jessie and
her companion came up.
" Douglas, may I ? — Mr Clifford Brandon
— my brother — and his secretary, Mrs
The moment Douglas's eyes rested on the
guest a quick look of recognition flashed
into their depths, while Leicester started,
even violently, with an exclamation.
I o8 A ntagonism,
" Good Heaven ! I cannot be mistaken !
You were my fellow-traveller eighteen
months ago, and saved my life at the
Glen - Luna interrupted him with a
haughty flush on his bronzed cheek, but
courteous words, —
" Pardon me. Let that pass, Mr
Brandon ; it is strange that we should
meet again. I recognised you directly."
Gabrielle had seen that, and her hand
had closed with a fierce grip on the handle
of the chair, and her teeth set like a vice.
Was it for this worthless life that one so
precious had been well nigh wrecked ?
"Why had he not let this dastard — her
husband — die ? It so maddened the wild,
passionate heart to know this that she
had almost stretched forth her right hand
and denounced him for what he was, only
for the one paramount sake of the man she
loved. Jessie's voice roused her to the
A ntagonism. 1 09
** It is odd, and so delightful ! Just like
a romance, isn't it, Mrs Albany ? "
Mrs Albany's haughty lip curled, but she
only said, dryly, —
"There is more romance and tragedy,
too, in real life than any romance can
tell. Where is Miss Lee ? I heard her
" I don't know. She ran in for some-
thing, and so Mr Brandon and I strolled
on till, you know, we saw you. Douglas,
do make that horrid dog be quiet. What
is he growling at ? "
" I am afraid, my dear, he is rude enough
to growl at a guest. Be silent, Angus, like
a good dog." The collie leaped up eagerly,
and began licking the hand stretched to
him. " Angus, Mr Brandon, is, I am
ashamed to say, capricious, but perhaps he
will make friends when he knows you
better. Perhaps you are not fond of
dogs ? "
" I cannot say that I am, Mr Glen-Luna,
and so, of course, dogs would not like me ;
but I suppose this one is good tempered % "
" A splendid temper ; only, like most
of us, lie lias a will of liis own, and his own
likes and dislikes ; he is very ungallant, too,
for he will not speak to Lady Glen-Luna,
coax him as she will."
"Then Angus shows very bad taste,"
said Albany, glancing antagonistically at
the dog. " Shall you join the party this
afternoon, Mr Glen-Luna ? I believe we
are all to go over to somewhere and see
a cricket match."
" Oh, yes, do ! " exclaimed Jessie, clapping
her hands like a gleeful child. She knew
that the r61e of ingenue suited her, and
" took " with men of Clifford Brandon s age.
" No," answered Douglas, quietly, and
with an inward shrinking which Gabrielle's
subtle sympathy felt ; *' I do not think I
" And I think," added his attendant,
urbanely, " that if we may be excused now
Antagonism. 1 1 1
we had better go on as you wished, Mr
"Thanks; good-bye, Jessie; Mr Brandon,
adieu for the present ; you will excuse us,
I am sure."
Albany bowed low, giving his beautiful
wife such a look as he turned away.
Jealousy may go with hate and fear, as
well as with passion, far better than with
love ; and in that covert look there was
both hate, and fear, and jealousy. She met
it steadily — in proud contempt. That look
was nothing new to the roue's hapless wife.
She only bowed coldly, and wheeled the
light chair away.
" Quite away, dear Gabrielle," said
Douglas, shivering ; "I cannot bear more
of them yet, even because you wish it ! "
" I do not wish it just yet." Her soft
hand touched him gently. " What do you
think of this Mr Brandon ? "
Douglas leaned right back, so that he
could look up into her face.
"As Angus does, and — as you do. I
don't like his face on that second, any more
than on the first seeing ; there is some-
thing entirely repellant and antagonistic to
me in the man."
" So there is to me," said Albany's wife,
quietly ; "I should not like to see any one
I cared for his wife, I think."
" No," said Douglas, strongly ; " and if
he is doing more than flirt with Jessie
I shall speak to my father ; they are all
• — by their letters — so taken with him.
By the saints ! I am almost tempted to
the wicked wish that I had never saved
" I would to Heaven you had not," she
said, between her teeth. '' You have paid
too heavy a cost if — if," she added recover-
ing herself, " face is any indication to a
"It is an indication there, most decidedly,"
said Glen-Luna ; "I don't like him, and
never shall ; and, I am certain, no woman
like you ever would. Am I not right,
How much language there may be in a
single word ! What a story lay in that
quiet '' yes ! "
VOL. II. H
GABRIELLE BETRAYS DOUGLAS.
H bon comme 9a/ as they say in
New Orleans !" said Douglas,
settling himself contentedly
the rich, soft cushions of the
phaeton that afternoon ; " I think one ordeal
is enough for one day. I'm quite happy
here, driving, with only my dear autocrat
for a companion."
She had the high-spirited chesnuts well
in hand as they drove at a good pace through
the park, Harford, as usual, riding a little
ahead. She looked down with an odd smile
quivering on her lips as Douglas spoke, and
Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 1 1 5
" One may have too much of even a good
thing, you know. I think you would, in
time, tire of me, if you had no other
She spoke half in jest, half in earnest, but
not a tinge of coquetry in either ; it was not
in the woman.
" Wicked Gabrielle ! you must think me
very fickle — or at least changeable, if that
is a milder word."
''An contraire. I know you are the very
opposite of fickle — the entire reverse of
changeable, both in your likes and dislikes."
" Thanks for such a good character, and
yet you assert that I shall get tired of you,
of all people under the sun."
" Why not, mon ami f " turning, with her
winning smile. " I did not say that aufond
you would like me or my company less,
but that in time you would tire of having
nothing else — no other society to make a
change, a variation from mine."
" Well," said he, complacently, " I have
1 1 6 Gabi'ielle betrays Douglas,
tried the experiment now for nearly three
months, and I feel still calmly contented to
try it as long as I am, — what I am now,
except — "
'' Except what % "
" That you will tire of me, Gabrielle."
Her hand tightened on the reins, and the
dark eyes looked out steadily before her as
she answered, —
" I shall not tire of you. The question
or position so reversed is not synonymous."
" Comment f "
" Is it likely I should weary of kindness,
of a home, of honour safely sheltered ? "
She was unconscious of the stress on the
" I " — of the suppressed, always suppressed
— passion and pathos in her low tones and
manner, but it made the man's heart beat
and the wild blood leap in his veins, and it
was full a minute before he could answer,
before he dared trust himself to speak.
" Forgive me, Gabrielle, I would not wound
you for worlds."
Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 117
" You never have ; you could not," she
interposed, a little hurriedly ; " it is memory
that stings and wounds, not you. I am
Gold then deeply alloyed, happiness only
in his presence, in the present, on the merest
surface of the ground that was hecatombed
with suffering and danger, for which there
was no future, only a dreary waste of years
hard to face at twenty-five. And hers was
not one of the lighter natures that can simply
sun itself in the present hour and shut tts
eyes to the future, any more than Douglas
Neither spoke until they had passed out
of the park by a gate from which three
roads soon diverged. Harford glanced back
a telegraphic inquiry to his mistress, received
a decided little nod, and the courier rode on
up the middle of the three roads, the car-
riage following, its fair driver remarking
" Harford said this was a pretty road by
1 1 8 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
which we can get round to the river side
above the lock ; we have not come out this
way yet either."
" I don't think we have, but, whether or
no, your wish is law," was the gallant reply,
at which Gabrielle laughed. PerhajDS he
would scold her in a little while, but she
kept up a lively conversation that beguiled
the way and chained his attention to her-
self ; no hard task, certainly, for a woman
so young and beautiful and brilliant, and
that, though she knew it not, the woman he
loved. What wonder that those dark eyes
watched the ever changing play of the
mobile face at his side, and took little
heed of where she drove or the scenes
around, or of the sound of voices once or
twice borne on the breeze, till suddenly a
corner in the lane was turned. Harford
had thrown wide a five-barred gate, and
standing erect to see well before her, Gab-
rielle drove through and reined up her
horses in style.
Gabriel le betrays Douglas, 1 1 9
*' Gabrielle ! you wicked thing ! to play
me such a trick ! "
" Ahmea culpa ! forgive me the betrayal.
See what a pretty sight it is."
So it was, for they were in the large
cricket-field of which Jessie had spoken in
the morning ; there were the players dot-
ting the field, for the game was at its
height ; the white tents and gay flags, the
carriages and varied vehicles drawn up not
far off, and the crowd of spectators ; the
elite gathered a little to the right of Gfen-
Luna's cortege, the rest variously disposed
— all gaily dressed, of course, for it was the
grand match between the County Eleven
and the Langbourne Club, and everybody
had turned out, from the county mag-
nates to the peasant, all just now watch-
ing the play with too intent an interest
to notice the addition to the company
Douglas had for one moment flushed
painfully as his quick eye singled out the
1 20 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
party from Luna Hall, but he answered
Mrs Albany, —
" I believe you and Harford planned this
" Add Dr Neville, who first told me of
the match, and I will confess my fault
frankly," she said, looking down on him
as she still stood. "You will forgive me,
and try " — (this with a soft pleading tone)
— " to enjoy the scene and society."
" I will try, for your sake. Ha ! what
a splendid hit ! this way, too, Gabrielle ;
take care ! "
Straight off the bat, with the velocity
and force of a cannon shot, came the ball,
as if it had been aimed at that slight erect
figure which in that second only Glen-
Luna's lightning quickness and dexterity
saved from the fatal blow. Every eye fol-
lowed that splendid hit — saw instantly the
danger in its flight — every one, breathless,
saw Douglas start forward, his right hand
only, it seemed, touched the ball, spun it
Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 1 2 i
upwards straight as an arrow, caught it
again as it fell, and deftly threw it up to
long-off as he ran forwards. ,
There was a ringing cheer from the spec-
tators as Douglas leaned back again beside
Gabrielle, who had instantly resumed her
seat ; many there recognised him at once,
many more guessed who he was, but almost
before he could answer Gabrielle's anxious
" You are hurt " with a " No, all is well,"
the phaeton was surrounded, besieged by
the Hall party, all with but one note* —
delighted meeting, heartiest welcome and
pleasure to see Douglas Glen-Luna amongst
them again — such a Babel of tongues that
at first it was difficult for either him or Sir
Arthur or Adeline to introduce Mrs Albany.
" It's so awfully jolly to see you again,
old boy, you know," said Percy Kosslyn, who
had started and muttered, "By Jove !, the
Vienna beauty," when he saw Douglas's com-
panion, *' and I have had the honour of seeing
you nearly two years ago, Mrs Albany."
12 2 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
" Indeed, Mr Rosslyn, where was that ? "
" At the opera in Vienna," and there he
drew back as Hyacinth Lee, who had not
at first approached, came up, with frank
hand held out to hand as frank.
" Miss Lee, how glad I am to see you
again ! "
" The pleasure is reciprocal, then, Mr Glen-
Luna," Hyacinth answered, brightly and
earnestly; "and isn't it jolly, Mrs Albany,
to see an old friend's face ? And no one,
I believe, would have seen you for a long
time but for that splendid catch. You will
stop, won't you, till the stumps are drawn,
and drive back with the rest of us, in a
troup % Do make him, Mrs Albany."
Gabrielle laughed a little.
" My dear Miss Lee, you evidently think
he is like the chesnuts — held well in hand."
" Pf course he is, Mrs Albany," returned
saucy, laughing Hyacinth, "■ and it's only
what men are good for — to hear and obey."
"A pleasant task when beauty gives the
Gabrielle betrays Douglas, 123
order,'"' said courtly Douglas, bowing his
handsome head, with a wicked glance from
Gabrielle to Hyacinth, and the other young
man laughed, and cried " Oh."
'* You've not let your silver tongue grow
rusty for want of use," said Percy Eosslyn,
glancing at Mrs Albany.
*' It has only improved by keeping, my
son," retorted Glen-Luna.
" Like good wine," added young Saltoun ;
" but I don't suppose you let your compli-
mentary powers grow rusty for want* of
use," with a bow to Mrs Albany which
pointed his own compliment. " Ah, there
are some more new comers in a victoria."
Both Douglas and Mrs Albany looked
round, and the former instantly beckoned
with a glad exclamation that made Hyacinth
look up quickly —
" Neville and his sister ! "
As the mellow, flute-like tones rang out,
Hyacinth Lee looked up to meet the
smiling gaze of a pair of bright hazel eyes,
124 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
the handsome owner of which was the
next minute introduced to her by Douglas,
as " his old friend, Miss Lee."
" Not a very old friend, I should think,"
said Chandos Neville, bending low to the
lovely girl before him, " unless we put
friendship beyond the reckoning of dates
" Of course we do, Dr Neville," said she,
laughingly, " we count our likes and dislikes
by their worth, don't we ? "
" The worth of a dislike," repeated the
physician, " what does Mrs Albany say to
" I beg your pardon, Dr Neville," —
Gabrielle had been speaking to Eose.
" Why, Miss Lee speaks of * the worth
of dislike.' Is there anything of worth in
dislike, do you think ? "
" I suppose there may be, if the dislike
is thoroughly deserved," answered Albany's
wife ; and then Douglas interposed, to
present the new-comers to those who were
Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 125
gathered about the carriage, the centre of
attraction — with its two brilliant occupants.
But presently, when a splendid hit had
again called the general attention to the
field, and the party had dropped into
groups, Neville gave Mrs Albany a glance
and, touching Douglas, said, gently —
" I saw that catch, and I am afraid you
have hurt yourself a little ; ten weeks ago
such a movement would have made you
swoon with pain. Are you hurt ? "
" I don't think so, I couldn't help *it if
I were," was the quick low answer, " the
ball would have killed her. I am all
right, indeed, Neville ; it may have tired
" Yes, you are getting a little fatigued,
I think," said the physician ; " I suppose,"
wdth a smile, " you have a nice scolding
in store for Mrs Albany when you get her
all to yourself again."
''Ah, foil if I can manage it," said
Douglas, " which is very doubtful ; was no:^
126 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
she wicked to betray me here, like that ?
I never expected that from you, Gabri-
"• Et tu Brute ! " laughed his beautiful
companion, " your reproach touches me to
the heart, I assure you, monsieur ; only you
must also scold Dr Neville and Harford, for
both were in the plot."
" So I suppose ; I'm a very ill-used being,
I think, but I won'.t scold you till we get
home, my dear tyrant."
" I do not think your scolding will hurt
her, my dear," remarked Sister Rose, and at
that moment Lady Glen-Luna came up
again, on Leicester Albany's arm.
" Douglas, you must really join us all in
the drawing-room this evening ! Now you
have once broken the ice, dear, we are not
going to spare you, or you either, of course,
dear Mrs Albany."
"Dear" Mrs Albany shook her curly
head with the softest of apologetic smiles.
" You will kindly excuse us this evening,
Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 127
I am sure, Lady Glen-Luna ; further fatigue
would be too much, I think."
" Douglas, do you hear that decree ? Do,
please, rescind it."
" Rank treason, Adeline," said Glen-Luna,
lazily ; " I'm too loyal a subject to dream of
disputing the royal decree."
" Bad boy ! Mr Brandon, will you try
your powers of persuasion ? "
"The task of the Danaeides, madam,
when my poor powers are to be matched
against those of Mrs Albany," answered
Leicester, bowing, but she had turned to
speak to Sister Rose, calling her attention
with an amused smile, to a group of ladies
at a safe distance.
" Your opposite neighbour and her coterie,"
she said ; " haven't they been enjoying a
nice scandalmongering ? "
Which was true enough, from the moment
the elegant phaeton had entered the field,
and Douglas's clever catch had drawn atten-
tion to it.
128 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
'' Eeally," said Mrs Orde, " that woman's
impudence gets worse and worse ! He never
was seen anywhere, and now she makes him
come right amongst everybody, driving in
like that, at his side, as if she was — Dear
me, the face some women have ! He's quite
her slave. Miss Chattaway."
" Disgraceful, I call it, dear Mrs Orde ;
and just see how the men have gathered
around her, laughing and flirting ; her
friend and charge will be jealous."
*' Of course, just what she wants, I dare-
say," put in Mrs Winstanley. "Who is
that lovely girl talking to him ? Madame
won't like that, I fancy. I cannot think
what Lady Glen-Luna ^as about to have
that Mrs Albany. Just look, too, how el-
egantly — ex-quisitely she's dressed ; if she
means to persuade me that her salary paid
for all that, why, I simply don't believe it ;
that plume in her hat alone never cost less
than two or three guineas."
So it had, but it was one her husband
Gabrielle betrays Douglas, 129
had given her five years ago, for even to
the last she had held some sway over the
man by no effort of her own— the sway of
her beauty— nothing higher or deeper.
"I suspect," said charitable Mrs Orde,
dropping her eyeglass, "that she knew
Glen-Luna long before his accident ; he was
no saint, of course,— young men never are,
— and you may depend upon it, down here
isn't the first time madam has sat at his
side behind those restive chesnuts ! Ugh !
don't tell me."
Since the good lady was so sensitive, it
did not exactly appear what she was not to
be told, but as she ceased, she was utterly
startled by hearing a sweet voice say be-
hind her, with particular distinctness, to
some one, —
"Don't theologians presume that the
Serpent had many legs, Julia? But I
think that the horrid vipers about here
have two left out of the many, making up
the odds with very forked tongues."
VOL. II. I
130 Gabr telle betrays Douglas.
There was a suppressed little laugh in
reply, and then Mrs Orde, not daring to
turn, saw pass slowly by two young ladies
of the Hall party, one, the " lovely girl "
who had talked to Douglas.
" Very ordinary specimens, too, dear, of
the anguis scandaloria ruralis/' added Miss
Hyacinth, with brows elevated, and wide-
open blue eyes of innocence, looking through
the " specimen." I don't know whether
I've got the Latin order, and all that, cor-
rectly, but in the vernacular we call it
Julia Saltoun's laughter bubbled over at
sight of the face a backward glance gave to
her view, and Hyacinth, her pretty chin
still in the air, her fair cheeks still flushed,
said viciously, —
" There 1 they've had the truth for once,
detestable old cats ! "
*' Oh, Hyacinth ! suppose they know Lady
Glen-Luna ! " whispered Julia.
" Not they, my dear ! and, if they do,
Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 1 3 1
still more shame to dare say so much of a
lady living under Lady Glen-Luna's roof
" Quite right, but still — it would be
rather awkward for you to meet them."
" They're not Hall visitors, Julia, and if
they were I should meet them with un-
ruffled serenity," returned Miss Hyacinth,
carrying herself all erect ; " it's a good thing
Mrs Albany is far too proud and sensible
a woman to care a bit for such vile
" Do you think she knows it, Hyacinth ? "
They were moving back towards the
" Of course she does. She breathes the
air, doesn't she, and those creatures fill the
air with their scandal ; her beauty is her
"They'll set you down as a rude, fast-
tongued hussy," laughed Julia.
*' Of course, and cut me up too ; unless
some one tells 'em, ' Oh, that's the heiress,
132 Gabr telle betrays Douglas.
Miss Lee, of Leesfolly,' and then the rude
set down will be, 'Such charming eccentricity,
so original ; ugh ! the toads," concluded Miss
Hyacinth. " Ask Mrs Albany to sing you
the parody on the old French chanson.
I heard her humming it on Sunday,"
"What is it?"
" O'est I'argent, I'argent, I'argent
Qui fait tourner le monde,"
sang Hyacinth — " the original is Tamour ;
oh dear ! "
" What a sigh, Miss Lee."
Gabrielle's rich voice ; they had not
noticed how near they were to the phaeton.
*' I was quoting your chanson, dear Mrs
Albany, and lauding its truth," said she.
**Fromsuch a wide personal experience of
the world's reverses, of course," said Douglas,
with his most wicked look.
" Don't be satirical, sir, or I shall count
you as an enemy."
Gabrielle betrays Douglas, 133
" Then I should remind you of the Italian
proverb, — ' If I have fifty friends, it is not
enough ; if I have ■ one enemy, it is too
much.' That is true enough at any rate,
nest ce pas, Gabrielle ? "
" Bitterly true ; but of that Miss Lee can
hardly have experience, I hope."
" I certainly don't know of any enemy,"
said Hyacinth, with a merry laugh. " Mr
Glen-Luna used to say I was a daughter of
sunshine ; I shall have my share of trouble
some day, I suppose. Dr Neville, you are
looking down on me just as if I were some
curious insect which you expect to see spread
butterfly-wings and whirr past your face ;
don't be afraid to laugh ; be as wicked as
the rest ; I'm used to it."
" Quite a martyr," said Chandos, laugh-
ing ; " but, as to the wings, you know
that angels as well as butterflies are so
" What a pretty speech ; I feel wings
growing, and, like the immortal Miss
134 Gabrielle betrays Douglas.
Miggs, I shall take an easy flight towards
" I think the earth would suit you better
at present," suggested Mrs Albany, gather-
ing up the ribbons.
" You are not going off the ground yet !
Do stop till the stumps are drawn ! "
But Gabrielle had detected signs of weari-
ness in Douglas which no one else could —
signs she felt rather than saw physically.
" Don't you see how terribly restless my
horses are ? " she said, smiling ; " they have
been very good, but they will be almost un-
manageable if we keep them much longer.
Sister Eose, do come in soon ; good-bye, Dr
Neville, till to-morrow morning. Harford,
please open the gates again."
The chesnuts made a start, almost a
bound, forwards, but two strong hands held
them in, and, as the carriage swept at speed
off the ground out into the open road, there
was an absolute little burst of admiration
from the men.
Gabrielle beh^ays Douglas. 135
" By Jove ! what a splendid whip she is! "
exclaimed Percy Eosslyn to Leicester Al-
bany. " What a lucky dog Glen-Luna is.
Brandon ; I told you I'd know the Vienna
beauty again, and here she is."
" Don't lose your heart, my dear fellow,"
said the other, with a hardly concealed
sneer, '' she's deuced handsome, certainly."
And he turned away to where Jessie stood
flirting with young Fred Saltoun. She knew
well enough how to play off against such a
man as the soi-disant Clifford Brandon. '
SANDS MAKE THE MOUNTAINS.
^^^SHE horses quite took up their
^g ^i driver's skill and attention all
^4;^^ the way home, and Douglas
leaned back very silent and quiet ; so silent
and quiet that presently, after glancing at
him more than once, Gabrielle said, very
" I am afraid that in saving me you have
hurt yourself ; you are in pain ! "
How instantly the grave, even stern, con-
traction of the brow changed, at the mere
sound of her voice ! How instantly the
smile came to the mobile lips, into the deep
grey eyes that met hers !
Sands make the Mountains, 137
" Dear Gabrielle, I cannot have you
anxious about me ! No harm was done ; I
am not in pain ; only rather fatigued. I
will keep quiet this evening on my couch,
and you must go down to the drawing-room
for a pleasant change."
Pleasant change ! From Ms side to the
room in which she must see, hear, breathe
the same air as her husband ! The words
came like bitter mockery. Douglas saw her
set her teeth suddenly ; and she said, look-
ing straight out before her, —
" It would not be a pleasant change for
me ! I had rather remain with you ! "
He said no more ; said very little during
dinner ; nor did Gabrielle. But presently,
when he was lying on his sofa, she came
and sat down in her little, low easy-chair at
" You may scold me now, if you like, for
betraying you this afternoon ! You said
you would when you got me alone again ! "
" Did I ? " throwing one arm under the
138 Sands make the Mountains,
graceful head, and looking up at her with a
contented smile. " It may count, then,
amongst the dozens of foolish speeches I
must have made in my life."
"I have no doubt you have, mon ami;
so now make a sensible, or, at any rate, a
true one ! "
" Ah ! tiens-toi ! " said he, laughing.
" Are truth and sense, then, on opposite
sides of the shield ? "
" Well, yes — sometimes ! You know,
well enough sense may be truth ; but truth
is not always sense, or sensible."
" Cest fa telle madame ! What, then,
am I to say that contains both ? "
" Confess," said Gabrielle, laying her hand
lightly on his, " that you did not find the
reality as terrible as the shadow. Suddenly,
even as I flung you into the vortex, it was
the only way to break the barriers, painful
as it was."
He prisoned the hand in his own, and his
Sands make the Mountains. 1 39
" It was for minutes horrible pain'. When
I saw that you had turned in amongst all
those people, I felt as if mentally you had
suddenly stabbed me, a dread I cannot ex-
press. I could have cried out to you to
drive away, away — anywhere out of sight
and sound! Truth this, but not sense.
Then came that cannon-shot ball, with death
to you in it ; and every thought, every feel-
ing, every dread but for you was scattered.
I only knew that your precious life was in
danger ! And then there was a shout, and
they were all around us. The Eubicon was
passed, and — you were still at my side ! "
He stopped abruptly. He had lifted him-
self, speaking almost passionately, the dark
eyes glowing, the bronzed cheeks flushed ;
but he sank back.
''After that, Gabrielle, it all seemed
changed — the cloud of dread gone. You
had been right when you said that meeting
them all again would not be so bad as I in
my morbid suffering had feared, only you
140 Sands make the Mountains.
forget one thing that made all the difference
"Did I?" Poor heart! Would nothing
stop its aching throbs of pain ? " What had
I forgotten ? "
" Your own dear presence — the silent at-
mosphere of your own intense sympathy
that compassed me like an invisible halo,"
" Thank you," the delicate lips quivered.
Her low " Thank you " was a little un-
steady, for one fleeting second, perfect self-
control had almost failed — almost, not quite
— her next words were steady.
" They were all so glad to see you amongst
them again ; their welcome was so cordial,
so real, that surely it nearly, if not quite,
repaid you for the pain and sufl'ering."
*' It was very good of them. It was more
than I deserved." He was half absently, as
he spoke, passing his fingers over the hand
he had taken. " And most of them, as you
say, meant it. I think most of them."
Sands make the Mountains, 141
His grey eyes were looking dreamily out
over the scene that lay without — sky and
forest trees and silver river. What was the
exception in his mind ? Surely the same
as hers which pointed unerringly at the one
who would fain have seen all that beauty
crushed and laid low in the grave. She tried
to get at his thought.
"There is an arriere pensee in your
mind? To whom does it point, mon ami?'*
There was a quick flash in the dark eyes
as the glance came back to her face, tut
he only laughed slightly and shrugged his
" It perhaps might point to more than
one and be mistaken after all."
'* You are too keen to be mistaken, or
easily deceived," said his companion, quietly.
'' Mille remerciments; let me fully return
the compliment," said Glen-Luna, " and I
do not, for one, think you need me to point
to one there to-day, met for only the second
time, whom certainly I do not like, or you
142 Sands make the Mowitains,
either, and who as certainly does not like
She did not move a muscle, or even hold
her breath as she said, —
" Who is that ? "
"Who! Oh, Gabrielle, Gabrielle, you
are a . wicked humbug after all ! Who
should I mean but the man they are
nearly all so taken with — Clifford Bran-
Such a fierce look of scorn and hate
flashed for one second into her eyes, and
showed itself in the quick movement of her
free hand, that it was well those keen eyes
near her were drooping under their heavily-
" I knew you meant him," she said.
" And you agree with me ? "
" Yes, to the full."
Before very long Douglas had reason to
remember that answer. He moved a little
restlessly, a little uneasily, as he often did
when anything fretted him.
Sands make the Mountains. 143
" I wonder if lie is at all in earnest or
only flirting with Jessie."
*' I cannot say. It might be either, you
know," answered Albany's wife, leaning
back. " Jessie is — pardon me — herself
such an incorrigible coquette that she
makes a man flirt ten degrees when he
would only perhaps go five."
" She is so terribly like Adeline," said
Douglas bitterly. The first time one word
the least inimical to his stepmother
had passed his lips. " Do you know
who introduced Brandon into society,
Gabrielle ? "
" I fancy," she said, " that it was some
one at the Polyglot."
" The Polyglot ! rather a mixed club.
You know it ? Who else ? "
" Young Eosslyn knew him. Miss Lee
said," added Mrs Albany. "Percy Eosslyn,
I mean, and several others, I believe."
*' 111 ask Percy about him," said Douglas.
** We will go into the drawing-room to-
144 Sands make the Mountains,
morrow evening, Gabrielle, if you do not
" Ah, that's my own good boy ; it is
what Dr Neville and I want, you remember;
it will be such a change for you from this
suite of rooms."
" In which," said Glen-Luna serenely, " I
have been happy enough, as far as outward
things can go, ever since May. Here comes
The door opened and the courier
" If you could spare me for a couple of
hours, Mr Douglas, I should like to ride
over to Langbourne, as my only sister, Mrs
Be van, is ill."
" 111 ! not seriously, I hope, Harford ? "
"No, sir, thank you; still she is very
unwell, and as I can't go over in the day
so well — "
" Mon clier, go of course, and take her
a basket of grapes, and anything else you
think she would like."
Sands inake the Mountains. 145
" Thank you, sir, you are too kind. I
shall not be long."
" Nay, don't hurry ; you know we're late
always, and never care how late it is," an-
swered his master, and Harford retired.
How little one can foresee the future, of
even a few weeks ! How little either of
those three dreamed the apparently, slight
but terrible bearing the illness of this sister
was to have on that
Future's undiscovered land. .
MISTRESS AND MAN.
CEKTAIN dulness fell on the
circle remaining after that bril-
liant equipage had left the
cricket ground, and Hyacinth openly pro-
tested to Neville and his sister that it was
positively too bad of them to go off before
" It's all those tiresome, restive horses,"
said she, " they should have had some more
quiet pair, now shouldn't they, Dr Neville ? "
"I don't think Glen-Luna cares to see
* quiet ' horses in any carriage he is in. Miss
Lee ; nor would Mrs Albany by choice care
to drive such easy-going quadrupeds. More-
Mistress and Man. 147
over, this time Glen-Luna had no intention
of coming here at all."
" Hadn't he ! " Hyacinth's blue eyes
opened wide in enlightenment. " I thought
they came on purpose to give us such a
"Oh no ; I fancy that Glen-Luna was as
surprised to find himself here as you all were
to see him."
" Didn't he wish to come ? "
" Indeed, I am only his physician, Miss
Lee," said the amused doctor ; ** I thifik
Mrs Albany could answer you better than
" I daresay she thought the change would
do him good," said Hyacinth shrewdly ; " do
you know. Miss Neville, I have quite fallen
in love with her ; I don't know what there
is about her even beyond her rare beauty —
a wonderful charm — something so strangely
interesting, partly, perhaps, because in re-
pose it is not a happy face, is it ? "
" No, Miss Lee."
148 Mist7^ess and Man.
*' But what a resolute one," added Hya-
cinth, with a change of tone ; '' mafoi! she
has a will of her own, as much as Mr Glen-
Luna himself. Ah, there's mamma's voice
calling me ; I suppose they are going."
But if Lady Constance had called, it was
Lady Glen-Luna who came up, all smiles
and sweetness as usual.
'' Dr Neville, one moment ; I am so anxious
about Douglas, for he looked so fatigued !
Do you think that that catch of the ball has
done any harm ? "
But Chandos Neville knew the role he
must play, and was quite equal to her. He
answered, with a grave bow, —
" I can hardly tell, madam ; I think not,
but he was wise to leave."
" Or rather, so wise of dear Mrs Albany
to make him go," said Adeline, smiling ;
" she is so devoted to her duty, and takes
such good care of our treasure, that really
his father and I need have no fear for his
welfare. You will see him to-morrow."
Mistress and Man, 1 49
*' Oh yes ; he is not out of the wood yet,
" Would that he were, Dr Neville. Will
you and your sister favour us to-morrow at
dinner, and a nice long evening, quite quiet ?
for we want to coax dear Douglas down, and
talk over getting up theatricals."
The invitation was accepted for more
reasons than Lady Glen-Luna dreamed of,
and they parted.
Neither had her ladyship the least ideg,
of the watchful eyes that from a quiet van-
tage point had all that afternoon taken
count of her as long as that phaeton was on
the ground. If any one had asked her
where Harford had been all that time, it is
probable that she could not have told the
questioner that he had remained mounted
at the head of the chesnuts, seeming to
take notice of little save for an occasional
glance at his master or mistress.
But late that night, after he had at-
tended to the former, he came noiselessly
1 50 Mistress and Man.
to the latter's sitting-room, where she was
putting away some books before going into
her bedroom. She turned as the door
'^ Well, Harford?"
'*Mrs Albany, pardon me; perhaps,
placed as you and I are, we are almost
" A fault on the right side," she said,
" when the enemy has the vantage ground,
and the reptile can bite the very foot
that spurns it! "
" Ay, that is true, madam. Well, I
wonder who and what this Mr Brandon is
that she is so thick with him ? "
Gabrielle Albany was standing by the
centre table, toying with an ivory paper-
knife as he spoke ; her hand closed with a
sudden convulsive grasp on the ivory, and
her white teeth clenched for a moment like
" I know no more of him than you do,
Harford," she said slowly, meeting his gaze
Mistress and Man. 1 5 1
full. She had wonderful power of acting,
'*Is he here after Miss Jessie?" said
the courier, half questioning, half in as-
" He is credited with being a favoured
admirer, if not an actual suitor yet," Mrs
Albany said, with a slight restless move-
ment that threw her chiselled features
more into shadow — perhaps designedly.
" Eeckoning," added Harford with bitter
emphasis, " on the master's death making
her heiress ; they say he's got a fortune,
but rich men like to marry rich girls for
all that ; her mother favours him, that's
certain, and that's what I don't like, Mrs
*' Nor I ; and yet," she said, looking up
into his face again, " I should have thought
that Lady Glen-Luna looked for title, more
rank, more at least decided position for her
daughter, than Mr Brandon can offer."
" Ay, but you see Miss Jessie's been out
152 Mistress and Man.
two seasons, and not off yet ; she's no great
catcli while her brother lives."
*' She has no fortune, then, beyond a
provision ? "
" No, ma'am, nothing to call * fortune.'
The property is all entailed, and Sir Arthur,
when he married, made a very handsome
settlement, which, of course. Miss Jessie
will have — tied up though, beyond any
husband's control — and she will have a
good dower if she don't marry to displease
her people ; but that's all."
"Ah, cest ^a, and she and her mother
think that this Brandon bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush ? "
" Exactly, madam, but then fine plum-
age don't make the fine bird, does it ? "
Who knew that better than the miserable
woman he addressed ?
" No," she said quietly, " but Thomas
Carlyle was not far wrong when he said,
' The world is very full of people — mostly
fools.' Eh^ bien, Harford, we must place
Mistress and Man. 153
this gentleman under our ban also, the
more as she takes him up. If we judge a
man by his books, we may ten times more
judge him by his intimate friends."
With that mistress and man parted, the
latter to his sleep, the first to fling herself
face downwards on her couch, alone, quite
alone, smothering even the wild passionate
cry of appeal to Him who heareth the
" How long, Lord ! how long ? "
CHOOSING THE PARTS.
I HALL we go down to the draw-
ing-room before they leave the
dinner-table ? "
" Gabrielle, you always think of the
exact thing I wish most ; you will make
She smiled, and shook her head as she
rang for Harford.
" I am not the least afraid of that, mon
" I have not yet discovered anything you
are afraid of, morally or physically, " said
Douglas, as she wheeled his chair out to the
Choosing the Parts, 155
lift. " I am sure you would stand tlie
truest test for either, "
He might have excepted one thing — her
own sorely tried heart ; but she only an-
swered lightly, —
**You invest me with qualities which I
fear I do not possess to quite such an extent
as that ; I must be a great hypocrite to
have made you think I do."
*' I think, though, that Harford agrees
with me ; don't you, Harford ? "
" Certainly, Mr Douglas, if madam will
pardon my boldness. "
" Oh, you are privileged, I suppose, Har-
ford," she said, smiling ; and then the lift
reached the hall below where Angus, who
had rushed down the wide stone stairs,
stood proudly swaying his stately tail, and
then contentedly trotted on before the chair
in its travels through the wide level cor-
ridors to the drawing-room habitually used.
** Angus evidently thinks ' the master ' is
quite in his right place," said Mrs Albany,
156 Choosing the Parts.
as tlie collie pushed wide the door with his
paw% and wagged round, saying as plainly
as spoken language, " Haven't I done a very
fine thing in showing my master in here."
" I think he is as pleased to see you
shine in society again as I am."
"You are very, very kind Gabrielle."
The few words were said so soberly, with
such a grave pathos, that the tears sprang
into her eyes, and for a minute she could
not have trusted herself to speak quite
steadily, then she said gently, —
" Nay, it must needs be the happiness of
those who are attached to you to see a
step taken which is for your happiness
She always spoke, acted, moved, with the
easy, perfectly unembarrassed familiarity of
a privileged attendant, nurse, almost sister ;
for she knew, felt in the way depths of that
true woman's instinct which is so rarely at
fault, that in maintaining that graceful
familiarity lay her only strength, her
Choosing the Parts. 1 5 7
greatest means of holding her position, so
singular and even anomalous as it was.
" Voila!' she added, bringing the chair to
an anchor by one of the open windows,
" this will be the very place for your
Majesty to hold your court."
And at that moment Lady Glen-Lunas
metallic treble was heard without, and in
came the ladies.
" Ah, dear Douglas ! how good of
you to be here already ; isn't it, Lady
Constance ? "
Lady Constance's greeting was very
genuine ; so was Hyacinth's and Julia's
and Lady Saltoun's, and, of course, Miss
Neville's ; and then, while they were all
talking and laughing round his chair, be-
side which Mrs Albany still remained, the
men came in and at once drifted in that
direction, attracted by both Douglas and
his beautiful companion ; all but Mr Clif-
ford Brandon, who, though he, like the
rest, came up to pay his devoirs with well-
158 Choosing the Parts.
feigned cordiality, soon drew aside to the
outskirts of tlie group ; perhaps he had
not exactly relished a look he, and only he,
had caught in the dark eyes of that hand-
some woman, who stood leaning so lightly
on the back of the wheeled chair ; a look
that seemed to warn him to keep his dis-
tance despite the sword of Damocles he
held over her head.
"And now that we are all together,''
began Lady Glen-Luna, in that pretty,
bright way of hers which most people
found so charming and some few there so
insincere, "let us try and settle this
theatrical question. Douglas, my dear, I
quite rely upon you to help us over all the
" Tout-d-vous, chere Adeline," said Glen-
Luna, smiling ; " but I don't see how I
can help you much."
" Oh, you can ; you know so much about
acting and plays. Doesn't he now, Mrs
Choosing the Parts. 159
" I beg pardon, madam % " Gabrielle had
been talking to Sister Eose.
"Why, Douglas knows all about plays
and acting, that he can suggest a play and
the parts, and — "
" I cry you mercy, Adeline ! " interrupted
Douglas, with uplifted hands of horror.
" Miss Lee, did you ever hear such a base
attempt to throw me into such a veritable
hornets' nest ? Mafoi ! if I named A and B
for leading parts, all the other letters would
tear out my eyes."
" We could not spare the bonniest een
of all," whispered Sister Eose, with a mis-
chievous twinkle in her own brown eyes.
*' Ah, foil Til owe you for that. Sister
Eose," he instantly whispered back, while
Hyacinth's laughing retort struck across
this by-play, —
" You ought to meekly obey our behests,
be the consequences what they may."
"Not much meekness in that quarter,
my dear," said his father, with a hearty
1 60 Choosing the Parts,
laugh ; " I'm afraid it's not a Glen-Luna
virtue. As to a play, I sliould think a
farce would be best."
" Decidedly," added Douglas, with an
aside to Mrs Albany ; " they'll probably
make a farce of it, anyhow."
But the younger people cried out on the
baronet, and Chandos, with a very grave
face, suggested " Macbeth," with Miss Lee
for Lady Macbeth, the mere idea of which
evoked an outburst of merriment.
" I do think you deserve a good box on
the ears, Dr Neville," declared Hyacinth,
shaking her little fist at him.
" Even a blow from so fair a hand would
be welcome. Miss Lee," he answered ; and
Gabrielle saw a slight frown contract Lady
Adeline said, —
" You are a saucy girl. Think of some
play, please, some of you. Mr Brandon,
cannot you ? "
" What do you think of Boucicault's
Choosing the Parts, 1 6 1
* Hunted Down ? ' " said Albany, turning
But Douglas dealt that one fatal blow.
" It is not published," he said ; " so, of
course, you could not get copies."
" Oh, it must be printed, Douglas ! " ex-
claimed Jessie, " or how could it have been
acted at all ? "
" My dear girl, printing isn't publishing.
Plays are often printed only for the owner's
use, or acted from MS. copies. Telegraph
to French, in the Strand, and you will find
that I am right."
" Of course you must know," said
Lady Glen-Luna; "we must think of
" Plot and Passion," suggested young
" Much too tragic," said his father.
" Too exacting for amateurs," added
Douglas and Neville together. " Try
Several more were named and rejected
VOL. II. L
1 62 Choosing the Parts.
for various reasons, and then suddenly Lady
Glen-Luna exclaimed, —
" A bright thought ! Only a few weeks
ago I chanced to see in the library several
copies of Stirling Coyne's play of the ' Vicar
of Wakefield.' Couldn't we do that % I
remember seeing it played at the Hay-
market when I was quite a girl."
" Capital, mamma," cried Jessie ; and Sir
George Saltoun, who was a great " gun "
for elderly business in amateur theatricals,
" I think we might manage it as well as
any other. Are the copies handy, Lady
Glen-Luna ? "
" I'll get them, mayn't I, please % " ex-
" Thanks, dear ; but I know exactly
where they are, so — "
Off" tripped her little ladyship to the
library, and soon returned triumphantly
with a little pile of paper-bound copies,
which she distributed all round.
Choosing the Parts, 163
"There, look! What do you think,
Douglas ? "
" Chere helle-mere, I am out, of course.
I am not going to play."
" You tiresome fellow ! But will it do,
dear, do you think ? "
"Yes, if you can manage the parts —
though this is by no means a good play ;
not in any way to compare to Wills's
* Olivia,' according to the notice I read
when it was on at the Court, and ac-
cording to Mrs Albany's description of
it. This version, for one thing, has
followed the tale, and left those two
women, Lady Blarney and Skeggs, to
tell what Wills has, of course, made one
of the most effective scenes — that be-
tween Thornhill and Olivia when she learns
" Couldn't we alter this version ? " said
Hyacinth eagerly. "Mr Glen-Luna, I'm
sure you could ! Cut out those stupid old
women here, and wTite a scene like in
1 64 Choosing the Parts.
' Olivia.' He can cut out Lady Glen-Luna,
can't lie ? "
" He's clever enough to do anything,"
laughed Adeline, playfully striking his
shoulder. " He could cut and write in, and
Mrs Albany kindly make us copies. Oh, all
so nice if they will ! "
Instant chorus of youth.
" Oh do, please ; it will be twice as jolly."
" I'll do anything possible within my
power, ladies, and Mrs Albany's memory
will, I am sure, kindly come to assist me ;
but you must not expect a reproduction of
Wills's fine scene."
Chorus — " Oh, it will be splendid ! how
jolly of you."
'' And for the parts," added Jessie, "who
must be the vicar ? "
As if by one movement, every one turned
to Sir George Saltoun. Sir Arthur clapped
a hand on his shoulder.
" No negatives allowed, Saltoun, you see ;
vote carried by acclamation. And I fancy.
Choosing the Parts. 165
Neville, that you would do Mr Burchell
" You are too flattering, Sir Arthur, but
" No refusal, sir, when I add my request,"
whispered Lady Glen-Luna, with sweet per-
''Eh hien!'' said the doctor good-naturedly,
" I suppose I must not finish the refusal ?"
Douoflas looked down with an odd little
smile hovering on his lips as the thought
rose, how very aptly 1 could cast at least
two of the parts. The only woman in the
room who could play Olivia was, he knew,
the very one whom Adeline would not name,
indeed, could not well put before guests,
Gabrielle Albany. The other Squire Thorn-
hill, his glance went covertly to the fine
imposing form, and swarthy — to him repel-
lant — face of Leicester Albany ; but he said
nothing, and it was Adeline who turned that
way and laid her white hand half-laughingly
on his arm.
1 66 Choosing the Parts.
" It's a good part in one way, Mr Bran-
don, and a troublesome one in another ; but
will you take Squire Thornhill % "
Though the man dared not even glance
towards his wife, he knew her thought as
well as if it had been spoken, even while he
answered Adeline with a low bow, —
" I will do my best with any part you
honour me by wishing me to take."
'* Thanks, fifty times ; and if you, Mr
Saltoun" — Fred bowed assent beforehand —
" will play Moses (just your comic part),
and Mr Kosslyn take Jenkinson, we can go
to the women's parts, and settle the sub-
ordinates afterwards. I think the three
girls had better draw lots for Olivia and
Not one there, except Jessie and her
mother and Mr Leicester Albany, but would
if they could have at once named Mrs
Albany, who, talking to gentle Eose, hardly
seemed to notice what went on ; as it was,
there was really no other way for the
Choosing the Parts, 167
hostess to do ; she knew that Jessie would
not draw, for that little coquette was too
well aware how utterly ridiculous she — who
never had been able to act one bit, or repeat
ten lines of verse correctly — would make
herself in, of all others, such a part, and
one in <^which Clifford Brandon had seen
Ellen Terry not so very long ago — not she.
" I won't draw, mamma, dear," said she,
stepping back, as if inadvertently, to where
Albany stood beside Sir Arthur, "for if I
got it, I couldn't do it a bit ; it's not»my
part at all.''
" You are too modest," said Albany, bend-
ing down, " or too generous, in giving up."
She blushed and laughed and denied,
feeling she had made a decided "hit" in
that quarter. Amidst much amusement
and speculations the requisite paper, and a
dainty Indian card-tray were brought, and,
when ready. Lady Glen-Luna begged Doug-
las to hold it, whereupon Angus, who had
watched the cutting and folding the slips of
1 68 Choosing the Parts.
paper as if the whole was designed for his
express benefit, gravely raised himself, with
his great paws on his master s knees, pushed
his brown nose into the card-tray, gave the
hand that held it a loving lick, as if to say,
'' Please forgive me," and dropped gently
to his old position, lying in the ^'chair at
Douglas's feet, and keeping watch on Albany
if he came near his master or mistress.
Dogs are very keen, if all-unconscious, dis-
ciples of Lavater.
" Now, maidens fair ! " said Glen-Luna.
Laughing they came up. Hyacinth looking
saucily in his face as she bent over the tray,
and in a tone that only reached his ear, —
" Only Mrs Albany can play this part.
I' 'j- "
And she drew one of the folded papers.
Julia Saltoun followed. Both opened, and
Julia held up hers with an exclamation of
fear and dismay.
" It's too absurd ; I can't do it a bit ! I
shall only guy Olivia and the whole piece.,
Choosing the Parts. 169
Do make some one else take this, dear Lady
Glen-Luna. Hyacinth will make a capital
Sophia; but I've never acted any leading-
part, and I'm certain I sha'n't remember
such a long part or — "
" Nonsense, my dear," said Lady Saltoun ;
" you mustn't be lazy. I assure you, Lady
Glen-Luna, she can act very well."
" I'm sure of that," was the suave answer,
and Julia yielded ; but while Adeline was
assigning Mrs Primrose to Lady Constance
and discussing the main points, the youfig
lady — who certainly had little stage con-
ceit — confided to Douglas's private ear that
she hoped some one would under study the
And that wicked, courtly Douglas was
such a hypocrite as to tell her he was sure
she would play Olivia to perfection, if she
would cast aside all fear of failure.
We must put Truth at the very bottom
of her well sometimes — n!est-ce pas ?
^^^ ACT " sounds a very simple, even
commonplace, little word ; but
what a detestable specimen of
creation is the man or woman who totally
lacks that quality ! They are like '' sweet
bells jangled out of tune." The majority
have a fair amount of it ! the minority have
that exquisite tact — that rare intensity of
subtle sympathy which is in itself a gift, of
which Douglas had said to his attendant
that hers surrounded him like a halo.
It was so this evening ! She sang, played
when asked, took her part in entertaining
the guests, as only a graceful, accomplished
Cross Cur7^enfs. 171
woman of the world can do, and overtly
gave no more attention to Douglas than
belonged to the position in which she stood
to him ; but yet he felt, not sentiently, but
in a vague, happy, restful way, that tlie
nameless halo was there about him. If
more than once something inadvertent jarred
painfully, a turn of the conversation, a
chance word perhaps, some extra quick
energetic movement of Rosslyn or Saltoun,
that forced upon him even more than usual
the sad difference between himself and them,
he would somehow be sure to meet her dark
eyes and see their glance go from himself to
Dr Neville with a bright smile that to him
said plainly, " Only a little while ! Look
forward to the hope held up ! " or somehow
the conversation was turned ; no one knew
how. Almost before he knew himself that
his eye was a little weary of this aspect of
the room a firm hand touched his chair, and
lo ! it was quietly wheeled into quite another
position and part of the sj)acious apartment.
172 Cross Cttrre^its,
If — and this was more than once — Adeline
was fretting and jarring every sensitive
chord with effusive attentions and affection,
she was sure to be called upon for something
for some one ; though that some one could
not have definitely said from whence came
the suggestion that Lady Glen-Luna sang
such a song, or knew the story of that old
tower in — shire, of which this was the
engraving, and told it so cleverly. She was
scarcely beside him herself for five minutes
together ; but he felt
Her presence by a spell of might,
Stoop o'er liim from above.
It was well on in the evening before
Douglas found an opportunity of speaking
to Percy Eosslyn ; and then, just after
Hyacinth and Mrs Albany had sung one of
Rubinstein's exquisite duets, and every one
was begging for another, Douglas caught
Eosslyn's eye and signed to him.
Cross Currents. 173
" Anything I can do for you, old fellow ?"
asked the young man eagerly.
'' Oh no ! thanks ! It's only that they
tell me Mr Brandon is a friend of yours ;
and as I didn't recollect such a name on
your list when I was amongst you all, I was
conjecturing where you had met him. At
the Polyglot, wasn't it ? "
" I think it was first ; but I know he was
very well introduced there, you know."
" By whom ? " asked Douglas.
" I really forget. An attache of the
Austrian Embassy, I think. He's one of
the Brandons of — shire, and very
rich ! "
" Vraiment ! " shrugging his shoulders.
" Plays rather, don't he, Koss ? " This was
a random shot on suspicion.
" No ; not much, that ever I saw. No ;
he came in to Aylmer's a few times ; but
didn't play much, and that rather indif-
" Bets high on races, then ? "
] 74 Cross Cttr rents.
" He may, perhaps ; but, if so, he's rather
dark," returned Percy, glancing with a
merry twinkle to where Albany was de-
cidedly flirting with Jessie. " Oh ! you
needn't be afraid ; though he is, certainly —
pardon me, yon know — e'pris. She's very
pretty ; and he saved her from being burned,
you see ! I'm sure you'll like him ! He is
liked in society, and certainly he is an ad-
mirer of your sister's !"
"So I see ! " said Douglas, rather dryly.
" And every one knows all about him ! "
" Do they ! Cest hien done mon cher !
Ah ! another of those lovely duets, and how
well the voices blend ! "
" What a glorious creature your friend
Mrs Albany is ! " said Percy enthusiasti-
cally. " If her husband treated her badly,
as they said, he deserves hanging ; unless
he is dead."
It was clear that Eosslyn had not for-
gotten the impression made on his fancy by
Cross Currents. 175
the beautiful inconnue at the Vienna opera-
house, eighteen months ago. Gabrielle's
face was not one to be easily forgotten, even
by a young fellow who generally fell in love
and out of it with every change of the
moon, as the old song has it. His love
Like the moon,
Which in the firmament doth run,
And every month is new ^
'' No ; he is not dead ! " said Douglas^
half amused, half pained ; and as he spoke
across the disc of his eyes passed the figure
of the very man of whom he was so uncon-
sciously speaking. " For Heaven's sake, my
dear boy, take care she never even hears you
allude to him. If you have heard anything
of the story from my helle-mere, you can
understand how more than painful it is to
" My dear Glen-Luna, you may rely on
me ! I'd cut out my tongue before it should
wound her, by Jove ! "
176 Cj^oss Cur^^ents.
" I hardly think so severe a sacrifice
would be exacted by Hermes!" said the
other, with a sort of quiet, good-natured
" No ; I suppose not. Don't you think
this play will be great fun ? "
" Yery great fun, indeed ! "
" You wicked, satirical scamp ! Don't
you think they'll act well ? They're all
used to it ; at least, I don't know about
Cliff Brandon and Dr Neville."
*' I dare say they'll do charmingly."
" But you think that Olivia — you agree
with Miss Saltoun's own dictum of her-
" One should always bow to a lady's
opinion, I believe," returned Douglas, play-
ing with his moustache.
" You are incorrigible, Glen-Luna. Of
course we all, I suspect, hoped that — well,
that Mrs Albany would play it. I'm sure
she could splendidly ! Don't you ? "
Cross Currents, ijj
Another foreign shrug.
" Can't say, mon cher. I should think
so, from my own intimate knowledge of her ;
and she has acted a good deal."
'* It's very provoking," said Percy, his eyes
fixed on the graceful form at the piano.
" Well, I suppose it can't be helped ! I'll
do my best with a small part, as the critics
say when they don't know what the deuce
to say. You and Mrs Albany will be busy
enough over writing in and arranging to-
morrow, I suppose ? "
" I daresay we shall ! "
" It's awfully good-natured of you, Glen-
Luna ; but it's just like you. Can't I
help ? "
"Oh no ; thanks, dear boy ! It's easy
" To you, clever fellow! You always were
so handy with your pen; but I couldn't
manage at all. But I could copy the new
scene you write."
" Thanks, very much ; but Mrs Albany
VOL. II. M
178 Cross Currents.
will soon do that, Koss. You will find
enough to do in getting up your part."
" I suppose Lady Glen-Luna will get up
a grand lot of spectators ? " asked Percy.
"Oh, of course ! A ball, I daresay ; and
a hop after the play."
'* You will come down, dear old fellow ? "
said Eosslyn earnestly. " It won't be a bit
of fun if you are stuck away, you know ! "
Douglas flushed for a moment, at once
pained and touched.
" I daresay I shall come down, dear Ross.
It's very kind of you all ! "
He stopped and bit his lip, man like,
proudly crushing even such slight sign of
emotion ; and then a burst of applause
broke across, and Percy turaed to add his
But Leicester Albany muttered fiercely to
himself, — '* She never sang like that for me
since many a year ! "
He forgot how many years it was since he
had cared to ask her to sing for him, or to
Cross Currents. 179
listen when the rich voice poured forth its
wealth at the request of others who could
better appreciate it than he had ever done.
Here jealousy fed on a .strange mixture of
fear and hate and flashes of base passion i
OUGLAS GLEN -LUNA and
Gabrielle were busy the next
day in rearranging the *' Vicar
of Wakefield." The cutting out of the boys
■ — Will and Dick — necessitated some altera-
tion of the first scene, and one or two others,
as did also the disappearance of the women
— Blarney and Skeggs. Of course, there-
fore. Scene second in Act IL came out
bodily, and in its place Douglas wrote a
scene placed in Squire Thornhill's rooms in
town, where he tells Olivia that their mar-
riage was only a sham.
" And she shall give him a blow too," said
The New ''Olivia^ 18 1
Douglas, writing it in the stage directions,
" only I'm afraid Miss Saltoun will, as she
said, pretty nearly guy the thing. I wish
He arrested the rest on his lips. There
was, perhaps, just enough of a resemblance
in some points between her own bitter ex-
perience and " Olivia's " story to make it a
painful part for Gabrielle to play, though,
if Lady Glen-Luna had directly asked her,
she could hardly have refused.
Just after luncheon Lady Glen-Luna, a
rare enough visitor, came up with a little
tap-tap and apology for intruding, but
Angus, half a minute before, had risen up
with an uneasy whine and walked to the
door, putting his nose close to the bottom
" The belle-mere is coming," Douglas had
said quietly ; ''Angus always tells me if any
unaccustomed person is coming, and whether
he likes or dislikes them — dear old boy ! "
And then enter Adeline, like a pretty
1 82 The New ^'Oliviar
little tiger-cat Gabrielle tliouglit, and won-
dered if, like herself, he assigned Adeline
her likeness in music to that heard by
Mendelssohn in the Sistine Chapel, of which
he wrote, —
" Mark also the horrible discord of the
" Bad boy," said she playfully, '' every
one is grumbling at you and Mrs Albany
for not appearing one bit all this morning."
''Firstly, helle-mere, I preferred remain-
ing in my own castle ; and secondly, look
there," pointing to the folios of MS. before
(rabrielle, " how do they think we could get
through their pldy unless we kept to work ?
Why, Brandon can't learn the centre-point
of the part until it's written. They ought
to be studying their parts instead of calling
us hard names."
" Mrs Albany, you don't keep him in
order ; please do make him come down now
or this evening."
" I think not." Gabrielle glanced up with
The New ''Oliviar 183
something of anxious doubt in her expres-
sion. " I must not, you know, have Dr
Neville scold me for encouraging over-
" You hear my autocrat's order, Adeline ! "
laughed Douglas. " NHmporto, we shall
meet somewhere in the grounds or park,
perhaps to-morrow, or I may take it into
my head to inflict myself on you all again
in the drawing-room, quien sabe f "
" Dear boy ! I wish that all inflictions
were as delightful as your company," purred
Lady G-len-Luna; " don't you, Mrs Albany ?"
** Decidedly, madam."
" But you will be present at our play,
Douglas ; and of course you too, Mrs
Albany ? "
** Cela va sans dire nest-ce pas f " said
Glen-Luna ; " when is it to come off? "
" About ten days or a fortnight, dear, I
think. I will write at once about the cos-
tumes and scenery, and send out my invi-
tations. Sir George will be stage manager
1 84 The New ''Olivia^
and all that ; he's capital at all that, and
has told them that they must all have a
first rehearsal in three days, so they're all
learning their parts as hard as they can."
" Will Neville be able to come ? "
" I sent a note down this morning to ask
him to name his time, and he wrote back
that his evenings were free unless he should
happen to be sent for, which was not very
likely, as the country is so different to a
London practice. Ta, ta, now ; I only came
to tell you these things, so I'll run off to
And away she went, much to the relief
both of Glen-Luna and his attendant.
All they had undertaken to do was given
in complete the next morning, and the
getting up of the play went on briskly
amongst the other amusements ; only Julia
Saltoun found hers a task, and secretly felt
very much afraid she should make a fiasco.
Douglas kept rather aloof, as he had been
used to do; during the ten or twelve days
The New ' ' Olivia!' 1 8 5
that followed, for all the talk and interest
begun and ended, he said, with the play
and ball, which all bored fearfully, and it
suited Grabrielle's plan of strategy, because
it gave and enabled her to give Lady Glen-
Luna still more the conviction that this
lling into society was really harmful to the
heir of Glen-Luna ; exactly this belief clever
Mrs Albany wished to produce. In the
grounds, and more than once out driving,
they met ; once or twice, too, Douglas came
down to the drawing-room in that ten days,
but that was all. Dr Neville said nothing ;
he knew well that in Gabrielle's hands all
was right. The last rehearsal of the play
was fixed for the morning of the day before
the ball, and while the '' company " retired
to one of the many sitting-rooms, Glen-
Luna, Gabrielle, and Sister Rose, who had
walked up with Chandos, betook themselves
to a favourite nook at the bottom of the
lawn, where there was a garden chair for
the elder lady, the younger taking her more
1 86 The New ''Olivia^
usual seat on the foot of the wheeled chair,
with two or three volumes from which to
select readings, and Angus speedily curling
himself on her robe ; the warm air was
laden with the scent of flowers, the lazy
hum of insects, and the ripple of the river,
deepening rather than breaking the stillness
of the cloudless August morning, and now
and again the sound of voice and splash of
oars came to their ears ; then there was a
restless movement, a quick, pained con-
traction of the brows in Douglas that did
not escape Gabrielle ; and then she saw him
look at his hands, those delicate chiselled
hands that yet had such nervous strength.
'* Yes," she said, quietly, exactly as if his
bitter thought had been spoken — as it had
to her — '' those hands will hold oars again
as well as ever they did. Don't you feel —
think — how diff"erent you are to what you
were ? "
" I think," he said, perhaps to hide deep
emotion, " that you are a magician, and
The New ''Oliviar 187
Neville another ; are they not, Sister
Eose ? "
" I hope they will prove so, my dear,"
answered Sister Eose, looking up with
her beaming smile ; " magic has changed
character in these days, but not died out."
** No, not died out," Douglas repeated
softly, half to himself, and a dreamy look
came into the large grey eyes, as if they
saw something afar off beyond the range
of physical vision ! perhaps they did, a wild,
mad dream of a future that could never be,
the woman he loved, free, and by his side,
his own for ever. He actuall}^ started with
an impatient frown at the sudden sound
of voices approaching, and turned his head
" Why, it is the company ! What is the
matter ? A break down ! Adeline, too ! "
Yes, so it was ; nearly all talking, laugh-
ing, and yet with dismayed looks, bearing
straight down on the trio, whose repose they
at once scattered to the air.
i88 The New ''Oliviar
" Now, remember girls," Lady Glen-Luna
said, as they neared them, " one at a time,
or we shall frighten them ; if I am to ask,
I'll speak first."
" What is the matter, helle-mere ? " asked
Douglas ; but he noticed that, though Julia
looked flushed and " odd," Hyacinth and
the others looked more expectant and trium-
phant than anything else.
" Why, my dear, this naughty, naughty
Julia has fairly struck her colours at re-
hearsal, and says — "
*' I broke down," said Julia ; " I knew I
shouldn't do it ; I said so from the first.
I'm awfully sorry to vex anybody, but I
had better give up at once for a better sub-
stitute than break down in the play. I
can't do ' Olivia ! ' Do take my part, Mr
Glen-Luna, and say honestly that you know
" I'll say anything a lady commands,
Miss Saltoun ; you are quite right."
" Hear, hear," cried Julia, tossing up her
The New ''Oliviar 189
hat, " and I'm sure Mr Brandon really
endorses it, for he plays capitally, and ought
to have a good ' Olivia.' I beg your pardon,
dear Lady Glen-Luna, for interrupting your
mission, but I wanted some support."
Adeline wore her sweetest smile — she
only had one or two — and most pretty,
playful manner, as she said, —
"It is too bad to ask anybody to take
up a role like that at such a few hours'
notice, and I should have telegraphed to
Blackmore for some actress, but by general
vote and acclamation I was at once en-
treated and deputed to petition a lady of
whose dramatic gifts I was only then made
aware." She turned now with charming
insouciance and entreaty to Gabrielle,
" Dear Mrs Albany, you will not refuse to
play ' Olivia ' for us ? They tell me you
are so clever an actress, and so used to it.
My dear girl you won't refuse ? "
Eefuse ! how should she not refuse ?
What ! play " Olivia " to that man's
I90 The New ''Olivia!'
"" Thornhill" of all men born ! — play so
nearly in fiction the story he had made
her play so terribly in fact ; the man who
had sworn he would repudiate her as wife
and claim her as mistress ! But for the
sake of the man at whose feet she sat she
must have followed the passionate impulse
of the moment, and stood up in their midst
to point her denouncing hand at their
favoured guest and tell them why she
refused their petition. All this flashed
like lightning through heart and brain,
and Douglas alone felt, what her husband
knew, that she would fain refuse.
"It is such short notice, Lady Glen-
Luna," she said, and if the colourless cheek
grew a shade pallid, it was the only out-
ward sigh that mastered self-control. '* I
am so sorry, but I am afraid you must
excuse me. I could in no way," and only
Albany felt the hidden irony, " play up to
Mr Brandon s ' Thornhill.' ''
''Mrs Albany, indeed you must not
The New ' ' Olivia!' 1 9 1
refuse us ! " exclaimed Adeline, now really
in despair, and for once, therefore, with all
the force of earnestness ; and Sir George
Saltoun and the others came up with such
a chorus of beseeching and protestations
that Douglas interfered, half in jest, half in
*' Ma foiy mes amis, but I must protect
Mrs Albany from your desperate attack ;
are you not rather putting both her powers
and good nature to a severe test ? "
" Oh no, no." Adeline clasped her
white hands with prettiest entreaty.
"Don't listen to your wicked defender,
dear Mrs Albany, but come to our rescue
only in pity for my position as hostess. I
know you have acted and recited, for Mr
Brandon told me just jiow that you told
him you had studied, and so I'm sure you
can get up ' Olivia ' between this and to-
morrow. If you would ortly say you will
do your best with the part I shall take it
as a personal favour."
192 The New ''Olivia''
How could she still refuse without the
fear, the extreme likelihood, of rousing
some suspicion of other reasons in Glen-
Luna's quick brain which might be dan-
gerous ? She yielded gracefully, with a
"It is impossible to refuse that which
your ladyship makes a personal request.
I will do my best with ' Olivia,' and you
will all perhaps pardon defects ? "
" We shall first have to discover them,
madam," said Leicester, bending low, and
as she turned their eyes met for one second ;
his, full of bold admiration and insolent
triumph — in hers, haughty scorn, defiance,
warning. Then she laughed slightly,
shruso:ing: her shoulders.
" Eh hien, monsieur ; nous verrons."
And then Lady Glen-Luna came in with
effusive thanks. Douglas again came to
"Miss Saltoun, if you would kindly let
Mrs Albany have your copy of the ' Yicar '
The New ' ' Olivia, " 193
she would perhaps like to commence her
task without delay, so as to be ready, if
possible, for one stage rehearsal to-morrow.
I can be of some help to her, I think."
" Oh, but you need not desert us too,
dear," said Adeline.
" Thanks ; but I had rather be quiet to-
day," said Douglas, lazily drooping his dark
head back against the cushions, '* if you
will all kindly excuse me ? "
" I suppose we must," said Hyacinth
ruefully, as the relieved and delighted Julia
gave her play-book to the new '* Olivia,"
whispering eagerly, —
" You're just the very one we all
secretly wanted to play it from the first,
Which was true ; but it was very far
from what Mrs Albany herself wished.
Circumstances had for the second time in a
fortnight beaten her back and conquered
her, giving the vantage ground to her
VOL. II. N
194 T^^ New ''Oliviar
Then Chandos Neville and his sister said
they must take leave, and the younger
people declared they would walk with them
to the park gates, while Sir George Saltoun
and Lady Glen-Luna returned to the house,
and with a deep drawn breath of relief
Gabrielle Albany found herself once more
alone with Douglas Glen-Luna.
CRUMBLING BENEATH THEIR FEET.
N copying the play as rearranged,
and looking through it, Gabrielle
had, in fact, pretty well got
letter-perfect before this, and her own rare
facility of memory made the committal of
" Olivia's" part an easy task at any time,
as Douglas very well knew ; and he ascribed,
her reluctance to assume that role to the
dislike she felt for Clifford Brandon, and
still more to play a part which in so many
points resembled her own sorrowful story,
and must therefore be deeply painful.
" There — I know it ! " she said about a
couple of hours later, almost flinging the
196 Criunbling beneath their Feet.
little book on the grass, to Angus's great
surprise. " I have neglected you long
enough. Let me read to you, mon ami, or
recite one or two of your favourites," draw-
ing from his hands the volume he had been
quietly reading all this time.
*' Indeed, my dear Gabrielle, you shall
not tire yourself for me, though your splen-
did reciting is always such a treat. You
have studied elocution under both Eegnier
and Salvini, and I have often wondered why
you did not go in for reciting instead of
going to old Professor Merton. You have
every advantage, both as a public and draw-
" Except money," said Gabrielle, shak-
ino^ her head with a half sad smile, '' and
" Ah, peste ! — there it always is," said
Douglas, with an impatient movement ;
"what a frightful amount of talent and
genius is lost or hidden for want of
that ! "
Crumbling beneath their Feet, 197
She dropped her hand and said, playing
with the collie's long, silky ears, —
" I shall, if possible, try it whenever I
leave here ; but, you see, when I lied to
England I was utterly friendless — ay,
worse, worse than friendless, as well as
poor, and the lawsuit swept up all I had
brought. I was in the worst possible posi-
tion for trying to get into — certainly
drawing-room recitations, as you can at
once see, and I had no money to live upon,
or dress upon, while I was trying. No in-
terest — no introduction of any sort. I had
been, save for one or two flying visits, out of
England for seven years ; I was practically
a stranger and a foreigner. Moreover, I
was not then equal to the wear and tear
of a struggling professional life ; I was like
a more than half-wrecked vessel flung on a
lee-shore. The garish whirl of the terrible
life I had lived, ending so fearfully as it
did, had for a time shattered my powers,
and for months after I left Leicester Albany
198 Crumbling beneath their Feet.
I could not, I know, have borne the sight
or sounds of a ball-room ; nothing but
quiet and rest. The situation which, by a
lucky chance, my lawyer got me was a
very godsend ; it was a harbour of refuge
after the wild tempest, and I was strong,
quite strong, long before I was again cast
The rich, soft voice, with its strange
pathos and suppressed passion, ceased for a
moment ; then she added, very low, bend-
ing yet a little more over Angus, —
" And now, for a time, I have found a
" Gabrielle, Gabrielle ! I would to Heaven
I could free you, be the cost to me what it
might ! "
The passionate force of the man — ay,
something deeper than either^startled her
for a moment, as the flash of lightning
lights up the whole canopy of Heaven, and
the blood rushed wildly back on her heart.
" Hush, oh, hush ! " she said under her
Crumbling beneath their Feet. 199
breath ; " I would not, if I could, take free-
dom at the least cost to you. Forgive me ;
I hardly know how it was — I never meant
to say so much. I have no right, and,
Heaven knows, would never pain or wound
you for one moment."
'' The wound to me, Gabrielle, is because
it is first yours." He had mastered himself
— so nearly self - betrayed — once more.
" Promise me that you will treat me still,
ever, as your friend, to whom you can
speak as you will, and find deepest, truest
sympathy. Nay, no answer in words," for
he saw how her lips were quivering ;
" only put your hand in mine, and I am
Such a delicate, beautiful hand ! She
looked up as she laid it in his, and that
touch of hand to hand struck one chord
that went straight from heart to heart.
He lifted that hand to his lips — gravely,
reverentially, and dropped it in silence.
Unconsciously in each of these two brave
200 Crumbling beneath their Feet,
hearts, so very near, so terribly sepa-
rated, Lovelace's noble sentiment still held
paramount sway —
" I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honour more."
THE BALL — THE PLAY.
ADY GLEN-LUNA had certainly
signally won the first move in
her evil game, though she coulcl
only guess its probability, not know it for
a fact. Still her ladyship felt perfectly
satisfied of one thing, that whether or no
Douglas actually loved Gabrielle Albany,
and she deemed it was hardly possible he
could be heart-free after having her nearly
three months with him, she had no cause
to fear Hyacinth Lee ; she had no chance
against such a rival as Mrs Albany were
she to wish it and try twenty times to win
him. The only one thing she had to dread
202 The Ball — The Play,
was the death of Mrs Albany's husband ;
but for that chance.
" Bah ! " muttered her ladyship ; '' M. le
Diable takes care of his own, and men like
that always live long, just because their
wives want them to be dead. As for
Hyacinth — she is four-and-twenty, and if
she did not care for Douglas, why on earth
hasn't she married ? Poor Lady Constance ;
that girl will take the bit between her teeth
yet, and marry some one without title,
money, or any particular position ; only in
her way she flirts and favours all round,
that it's hard to tell which she likes best or
flirts with most — Brandon, Eosslyn, Douglas,
or Dr Neville. He admires her, I'm sure,
and I am very glad she plays Sophia to his
Burchell. Lady Constance don't like it,
I can see ; but that's all the better, for if
Hyacinth would only fall in love I should
be absolutely safe as long as Douglas lives,
as long — "
She stopped, and walking up to the long.
The Ball — The Play. 203
cheval glass in her dressing-room, surveyed
her own pretty petite figure and face in it,
smiled in two or three different ways at
herself, tried a look of horror, of surprise, of
sorrow, and then one of gentle sadness.
" So that will do, I fancy. I wish I had
more courage ; I could soon end it, I think ;
but then — then, the least suspicion would
be fatal. I must try easy, natural measures
What was the woman speaking, thinking
of? Harford had said to Mrs Albany of
her, " Do you know what a little devil she
is ? " Both of those two, who loved Douglas
Glen-Luna, might well have shivered at the
face looking at itself in the glass. Ah, if
it had but been a magic mirror, such as in
fairy tales you see coming events reflected
as unerringly as the Highlander's second
sight forewarns him of danger.
Then she suddenly clenched her hands
and stamped her foot in a paroxysm of im-
204 The Ball — The Play.
" Why didn't the accident do its work
better ? Why did it leave me all to finish
at such risk ? Why does he linger on —
linger on, as if his wrecked life was worth
his having ? And, good Heaven — that this
frail life should be all that stands between
my child and such a splendid inheritance !
It shall not ! Oh, if I had only one safe
confederate, whose whole interest went with
mine ! Ha ! "
What thought had struck her that the
exclamation escaped her with such a flash
in the steel grey eyes, that made them
glitter like a serpent's ? What thought
made the lips compress into such a thin,
sinister line as she left the room ? Five
minutes later she was smiling, laughing, at
luncheon, the most affable, lively, best of
'' Two-faced girl make bad squaw," say the
North American Indians.
The unusually spacious and magificent
suite of reception-rooms at Luna Hall were
The Ball — The Play. 205
the admiration, and perhaps secret envy, of
the county, and the hostess entering them
first before she retired to dress, had reason
to feel satisfied with the tasteful beauty and
perfection of light and colour. The third
room of the suite it was which had loner ao-o
been altered and arranged for use either for
music or theatricals, had now easily been
converted into a very convenient bijou
theatre, under the auspices of the men
sent from London to take charge of the
scene-shifting and the necessary " business.'"
Stage, wings, exits, place for the band, and
rows upon rows of stalls were all there.
The guests had been invited to come
punctually at half- past seven, as the play
began at eight, and dancing about ten or
half-past, and no one was likely to be late.
Chandos Neville and Kose had, by Doug-
las's request, come in time to dine with him
and Gabrielle, and, as before, they descended
before any one arrived, and in fact entered
the grand salon by one door as Lady Glen-
2o6 The Ball — The Play.
Luna and Hyacinth Lee came in by another,
followed at the respectful length of their
trains by Leicester Albany. The man
almost started as his bold glance fell on his
most beautiful wife, who looked simply
superb in her graceful robe of white cash-
mere and falling lace, with crimson sash
and plain gold ornaments, and one white
rose nestling amidst the rich, dark masses of
her short, curling hair, — and a fierce thrill of
jealousy shook him as Douglas said some-
thing to her. Moving in haughty endurance
amongst the roues with whom he had sur-
rounded her, in all the rich panoply of
gleaming satin and flashing jewels, she had
never looked more beautiful than now. He
felt a savage rush of triumph that, scorn
him, shrink from his mere touch as she
might, she must this night, if only in a
play, only in her character of actress, tell
him she loved him, and yield herself to the
clasp of arms which to her was pollution.
Jessie, tripping in all prettiness and blue
The Ball— The Play. 207
and cloudy white, would perhaps have
hardly liked it if she could have read what
was passing in his mind. Then came in
Hyacinth, and her bright eyes were brighter
still as she greeted Chandos Neville, and
then Eose, and whispered enthusiastically
to her, —
" Doesn't Mrs Albany look exquisite ? —
just like a picture ? "
" She always does, my dear," answered
Sister Eose, smiling.
But now carriages were heard, and the
guests arrived quickly from far and near —
for no one had declined — and before eight
the salon was well filled : Adeline never
crowded her rooms. At ten minutes to
eight the actors disappeared, and Miss
Neville, with a smiling, " I shall shel-
ter under your wing amongst so many
strangers," took Gabrielle's vacated seat.
But the moment Lady Glen-Luna gave
the signal for the company to move to the
theatre, Harford, who had waited near the
2o8 The Ball— The Play,
door, came quietly in and stood behind his
master's chair till every one was seated, and
then wheeled his chair up just behind the
last row of seats, just near Miss Neville.
Beyond that again stood the whole retinue
of servants, for each salon opened into the
other by a wide archway ; Harford, of course,
quite en regie, stood near Douglas.
In the midst of the lively buzz of tongues
— and certainly Douglas kept those near
him amused enough — and consulting of the
dainty-scented programmes, the band struck
up Boccherini's charming and quaint minuet
for strings, and presently the bell tinkled,
and up rolled the curtain discovering the
first scene, and before it had gone far it did
not need such a critical judgment as Glen-
Luna's to see that Mrs Albany, despite the
short notice she had had, not only knew her
stage business well and was used to acting,
but was de naturel an actress, more as the
play went on, and all acted fairly well ; it
was evident that she had the rare gift of
The Ball — The Play. 209
throwing her own power into others, and
bringing out their best means — of forcing
them nearer to her own level. Albany re-
membered that power of hers of old, when
quite in the earlier days of their marriage
he had acted with her in private theatricals.
His own first appearance with Jenkinson
gained much applause ; but the interest of
the audience became really thoroughly
aroused by Olivia in the scene where her
lover is trying, and only too successfully,
to persuade her to fly with him. Was it
only the bitter memory of such a similar
scene in her own life that threw such an
intensity of passion and pathos into her
acting — such a reality into the look, at once
so searching and so full of doubt, which she
fixed on his face at his first words, " Nay,
dearest Olivia ; these scruples betray a doubt
of my affection and my honour " ? a look
that made the man who had flung her away
on a cast of the dice wince and shrink,
brazen as he was. Who there, save him,
VOL. II. •
2 1 o The Ball — The Play.
had the secret? Who there guessed the
literal truth of the last two words of Thorn-
hill's speech, "Think only of our future
felicity. Come, Olivia ? " He threw one
strong arm round the slight form, and drew
her close to him, with a flash of cruel
triumph in his black eyes, " My joy ! my
pride ! m?/ wife I "
" Eichard ! Richard ! my destiny is in
your hands ! "
And then she was hurried from the stage
amidst a burst of applause. Douglas alone
said nothing. There was a deep, strange
sense of pain all through, which he could
not shake off; a vague knowledge that it
was all pain to her ; an impression — percep-
tion rather — that purposely or not she had
thrown a new reading into Olivia, an under-
lying of doubt of Thornhill all through in
the girl's mind, even when her heart yielded.
She had not " gagged " in one word ; but it
was in the intonation of the flexile voice,
he wonderful facial action, the movement
The Ball — The Play. 2 1 1
that seemed to shrink — to shiver even
when, wrapped by his arm, her head had
dropped on his shoulder. How could
Douglas guess how real that shiver had
Then the act-drop fell on the first act,
and every one began talking ; and Lady
Glen-Luna was complimented to the top
of her bent on the excellence of her
dramatic company and the "get-up" of
" Mr Brandon is capital, and so are Dr
Neville and Miss Lee," said one lady, fan-
ning herself; " and your friend, Mrs Albany,
is simply exquisite ; isn't she. Miss Glen-
Luna ? It is no wonder Thornhill should
fall in love with such an Olivia."
Which remark Jessie did not like.
" I think she over-acted just a little,"
said she ; " don't you, Lady Saltoun ? "
Lady Saltoun, who was a very good judge
of acting, looked a little amused.
" I'm afraid, my dear, I must entirely
212 The Ball — The Play.
differ with you. Mrs Albany's impersona-
tion is superb. What is the next scene ? "
glancing at her programme. " Winter
Scene — Vicar's cottage after being burnt
down. Ah, and after that the scene you
have put in, Mr Glen-Luna."
"I am afraid, Lady Saltoun, that the
scene left to itself would be disappoint-
ing ; but I feel sure that wherever I have
failed Mrs Albany will fill up the defi-
"I don't think you will have left her
much room or need for * gag,' " returned the
lady, laughing ; ''I am all on the qui vive
for the scene. I am glad you have refined
Thornhill a little, as in Wills's charming
Olivia, for in this version his brutal
villainy and sudden repentance are too
" So I thought. Lady Saltoun, and Mr
Brandon quite follows my idea. He is
really playing very well, though I think
The Ball — The Play, 2 1 3
Mrs Albany is to a great extent answerable
" I think so too. Ah, there is the curtain
for this front scene. Poor Mrs Primrose,
and what a lovely Sophia Miss Lee does
make ! "
" And," thought Douglas, " how very well
Neville plays lover — better, I suspect, than
Mamma Lee quite likes." The thought
ended in a suppressed sigh, and a restless
lift of the head that made watchful Harford, ,
standing behind him, stoop a little and
whisper in German if he were tired and
would like to move.
" Nein, meinfreund,'^ and the bright smile
reassured the faithful attendant.
There was a general settling of expecta-
tion and excitement when, after a rather
longer wait than the others had been, the
curtain rose, and discovered a handsome
apartment in London, with Eichard Thorn-
hill seated at a table, and Olivia, richly
robed now, pacing to and fro. Douglas
214 l^he Ball — The Play,
lifted himself from his half recumbent atti-
tude of languid indifference, almost startled
by something he felt, rather than saw, in
her face, or heard in the ring of her voice.
You might, indeed, have heard a pin fall, or
a breath drawn, in those few seconds before
the actress broke the stillness. She is ask-
ing that her father should be told that she
is wedded ; it is half a prayer, half a
demand. He looks into the beautiful face,
and shakes his head, refusing her with words
of endearment, with half-a-dozen plausible
reasons why he cannot, dare not yet, ow^n
her publicly. She stands for a moment
gazing on him as if she could scarce have
heard aright, and then she is kneeling at his
feet, appealing to the '' love he has professed
for her," pleading for justice, only common
justice, with such anguish, such wild pathos,
that the tears started to many an eye.
Thornhill half covers his face with one hand,
and puts the other out to draw her to him ;
but still refuses, with some sign, as she
The Ball — The Play, 2 1 5
shrinks from his touch, of vexation and
rising temper. Olivia springs to her feet,
and, as he rises, quickly faces him with
flashing eyes and haughty mien. She stoops
no more to plead ; she tells him she will no
longer break her father's heart by leaving
him to believe her honour lost ; will no
longer hear the whisper, the breath of
shame, she feels in those about her even
now ; swears that she will write home, or
go herself, if he still refuses to do her
justice, and turns to leave him.
Breathless the audience watch as Thorn-
hill steps forward in her path, and, with a
cold, cruel sneer that is no acting in this
man, tells her to learn the truth, and then
leave him if she can or dare ; tells her that
the priest was a sham, the marriage a
mockery, and she, in all her proud beauty,
only Richard Thornhill's mistress — not
There is a dead pause ; this woman's act-
ing all through has been so powerful, so
2 1 6 The Ba II — The Play.
terribly real, that it grows now almost too
painful as they watch the awful change that
comes into the beautiful, deathlike face, to
which one hand is slowly lifted for a
moment, as if this thunderbolt at her feet
had dazed her senses ; dread, horror, agony,
a hoarse whisper between the white lips.
" Holy Heaven above ! it cannot be true
— not wedded ! only your mistress ! "
Then the scathing scorn and fierce passion
and agony of the woman break forth like a
wild torrent, before which the would-be
betrayer shrinks, almost for a minute cowers
(^liis is no acting in Leicester Albany), but
still cannot resist yet another sneer, another
bit of taunt. It is too much. With one fierce
word, " Coward ! " on her lips, she lifts her
clenched hand and strikes him once on the
breast, no play blow, lacking in passion or
force, strikes him with a passionate force that,
prepared as he is, and powerful man as he is,
he staggers slightly and gives back a step.
" By Heaven ! Olivia, but I love thee
The Ball — The Play. 2 1 7
more madly than ever, and will not let thee
escape me ! "
But Olivia is too quick. As the blow is
given she turns and flees, and the act-drop
falls. A minute's pause, as if the audience
were regaining breath, and then long and
loud the applause broke forth with calls for
Brandon and Mrs Albany.
Douglas leaned back again as they came
before the curtain, but he noticed how pale
and even exhausted Gabrielle looked, though
the chiselled lips were half smiling as she
bent low to the enthusiastic audience, and
retired, not before she had met Glen-Luna's
glance with a deepening smile that reached
the beautiful eyes this time.
" Splendidly acted ! " exclaimed Sir Arthur,
and Lady Saltoun asked aloud of Adeline, —
" Didn't I hear some one say that some one
— Mr Brandon, I think — was sure she is the
same lady he heard recite at some charity
affair in America some few years ago ? ''
" I think it was," blandly answered
2 1 8 The Ball— The Play.
Adeline, delighted to find she had got hold
in her house of a '' draw " so unexpectedly,
and in no way afraid that any consideration of
money would suffice to lure Gabrielle Albany
from her charge of Douglas. * ' Perhaps, if that
is so, we can get her to give us a recitation
presently. Douglas will know, of course."
" The curtain rose again on the Inn, where
the Vicar finds his miserable daughter ; and
the interest of the spectators was kept up till
the fall, especially when Thornhill once more
comes on the scene. Nor did the interest
flag for one moment on to the end, when the
curtain fell on the pretty tableau grouped on
the stage. Then there came the enthusiastic
applause and recalls of the principal artists.
"But it is certainly that very clever,
very handsome Mrs Albany who has carried
it through so splendidly," whispered Lady
Saltoun to Douglas Glen-Luna.
So she had ; but even Douglas knew only
the half of what had tried her so terribly in
THE BALL : A BUTTERFLY SINGES ITS WINGS.
ND then came all the buzz of
tongues, commenting, criticis^-
ing, talking as the guests
filtered into the centre salon or passed
into the banqueting hall opposite, where
refreshments were laid out. When the
'* theatre company " made their reap-
pearance in their own costumes de hal,
Gabrielle Albany saw that Douglas was
back again in the place where she had left
him — near an open window — but it was
some minutes before she could escape grace-
fully the " lionising " that greeted her en-
trance and gain his side.
2 20 A Buttei^fly singes its Wiiigs.
" Are you tired, mon ami, with having
to sit out all that tiresome amateur acting
of ours ? "
" No ; they all did it well, especially
Neville and Brandon ; you made them. I
was only so pained, Gabrielle, because I
knew — felt, how it tried you ; your acting
was magnijique ! Eeal. I fancy you rather
startled Brandon once or twice."
She knew she had — who better ? — and
drew a little back, w^ith a slight laugh and
shrug of the shoulders.
" Ma foi ! perhaps I did, but I could not
help that, you know. Here they all come."
A number of them ; Albany's deep voice
bandying jest and compliments to Hyacinth,
which made her laugh and colour, too, even
while she saucily retorted, —
" I think it was Mrs Albany who made
us all do our best ; compliment your fair
Olivia, Squire Thornhill, or her powerful
" Powerful, indeed ! " laughed Leicester,
A BtUterfiy smges its Wings. 2 2 1
turning with a bow to his beautiful wife.
" You did not spare me, Mrs Albany ; it
was no half-hearted touch, but a real hard
blow, you gave me."
She let her eyes meet his, and said
lightly, with a half laugh that veiled to
others — not him — the douhle entendre of
her retort, —
" You are quite strong enough to bear
it, Mr Brandon. I do not think I suc-
ceeded in hurting or wounding you veiy
" Madam, I had rather only a blow from
a fair hand than the heart stab from bright
He avoided the glance of hers, and turned
to Jessie, taking up her ball carte, as the
band was now heard ; and there was a
general brightening up and movement to
claim or secure partners.
" Mine, this at least, Miss Lee," said
Chandos Neville, and the soft colour on
her cheek deepened slightly, and the bright
22 2 A Butterfly singes its Wings,
eyes were brighter still as she gave him her
"Mrs Albany, you promised me the first
and I don't know how many waltzes," said
Percy Eosslyn eagerly.
" Your inventive powers are large, Mr
Eosslyn," said Grabrielle, smiling, "for I do
not think I gave any promise at all, as I
did not contemplate dancing."
" Then," said Douglas very gravely, " the
sooner you not only contemplate but enact
it the better. I want to see you. I am
certain you dance like a fairy, and Eosslyn
used to be a good waltzer."
" Not like you though, old fellow," said
Percy. " You used to — "
Gabrielle's hand clasped his arm ; Gab-
rielle's rich tones interrupted him.
'* Come, then ; they are all in the maze
Glen-Luna's eyes followed that slight,
white-robed form, which to him was all in
the world, but the sigh was smothered back
A Butterfly singes its Wings. 223
on the heavy heart, while the handsome
face and smiling lip turned to Lady Con-
stance and Miss Neville, who came up —
" their dancing days were done," they
Lady Glen-Luna's, however, clearly were
not, for she whirled past them with Sir
George Saltoun ; dignified Lady Constance
looked after them — met Douglas's amused
and entirely comprehending smile, and
answered it frankly.
" Yes, of course, she is so very difierent'
— quite exceptional. Her four or five-and-
forty years are simply numerical, because
she was born that number of years ago !
but she is so small and dainty and pretty,
so ever bright and youthful, that to see her
a wallflower would look quite as odd as
to see me dancing. Ah, Sir Arthur," smil-
ingly tapping the baronet with her fan as
he came up.
" Hum," said he, meaningly ; " I think
* Sir Arthur ' is wanted indeed, when he
2 24 ^ Butterfly singes its Wings.
finds his wicked boy flirting with two such
" So you have come to help me, father ;
but I cannot resign either, even to you !
How voice and eyes spoke of the strong
aff'ection that bound father and son ! What
a wealth of love the sister and stepmother
had trampled under foot. The thought
crossed Eose Neville, and her glance went
instinctively in search of Jessie and her
swarthy partner, but she missed them
from the throng of dancers ; so did one
other, the man's wife, and the firm, delicate
lips closed suddenly over the small white
teeth. Great heavens ! did he dare to
think that she would stand calmly by and
basely suff'er him to betray the honour of
the noble house that sheltered her, of the
one man who held her very heart, to whom
every tie of love and gratitude and duty
bound her ? She might, perhaps, in her
terrible, position, be forced to let it go on to
the very last point for the sake of the one
A Btttterfly singes its Wings. 225
being whose whole future — ay, and life —
depended on her. The retort that would
brand her so cruelly, so falsely, she ab-
solutely set at nought save for the effect it
might, even must have on her position ;
but she knew too well the desperate man
with whom she was dealing, knew the not
less desperate and ruthless character of the
woman with whom she was silently warring
— foresaw that eventually those two must
draw together in one fearful interest* as
inevitably as the needle is drawn by the
magnet, and knew that when that time
came the battle would be deadly indeed.
What a miserable mockery the gay
dance, music, and glittering crowd were
to such a heavy heart as hers ! Escape
she could not ; even to remain unnoticed
and unsought was equally impossible. The
consideration, the position, which the family
accorded to Douglas Glen-Luna's secretary,
her success as Olivia, and, above all, her
own rare beauty and gifts, made her an
VOL. II. p
2 26 A Butterfly singes its Wings,
object of attraction, the more so because,
being already married, the men felt that
they could flirt in safety ! and the mammas
felt that she could not cross the paths of
their daughters, practically, at any rate.
Meanwhile Jessie had really turned a
little giddy, and, true couquette, made the
most of it. Albany drew her outside on to
the terrace, still keeping his arm about her.
" So are you better, little fairy ? " he half
whispered, stooping to look into the blush-
ing face, "the room got hot, and this is
so cool, so lovely" — he was leading her
past the windows, down into the gardens
— '' especially with such a witch for a
" I wonder how many times you have
said the same thing to others ? " laughed
Jessie. " Please take me back to mamma,
and " — with a pout — " keep your pretty
speeches for more appreciative ears."
" Cruel fairy ! for whom should Clifford
Brandon keep them, save — "
A Butterfly singes its Wings. 227
*' Why, Hyacinth Lee, or handsome Mrs
Albany," said Jessie, carelessly pulling a
flower to pieces ; but Albany detected the
jealous ring in her tone, and knew that with
her the " game " was won.
" I prefer jessamine to hyacinths in-
finitely," said he coolly ; " and all Mrs
Albany's beauty is as nought to me."
Then, with an abrupt change of manner,
he clasped her hands and bent down.
" Jessie ! Jessie ! forgive me if I am too
bold, have hoped too much, so much older
than you as I am ; but you must have read
— guessed — that I love you, that I have
loved you from the hour I held you sense-
less in my arms. Jessie, dearest, can you
learn to love me ? "
And, while the foolish, sentimental girl
whispered that she loved him already, and
listened to his vows, promising to keep all
secret till he chose to speak to her parents,
she little dreamed the dangerous ground on
which she stood — little dreamed, poor fool,
2 28 A Butterfly singes its Wings,
that the only hand that could pluck her
back from the gulf was that of her lover's
The butterfly had singed its wings ; would
it quite burn them ?
When they re-entered the ballroom the
band was playing the charming overture to
" Guillaume Tell," while the guests pro-
menaded or rested, chatted, and flirted. In
such an interval Douglas was, of course, the
centre of a group, but his quick eye, for all
that, saw the pair re-enter as readily as he
had missed them, and Neville, who was
standing near him, laughing at Hyacinth's
sallies, levelled right and left, and met by
Glen-Luna's or Gabrielle's witty repartee
noticed a slight, very slight, momentary
shadow cross the broad, fine brow as Albany
brought Jessie back to her mother, who had
just come up, all smiles, of course, but with
"request" in every line.
"A petition," she cried gaily, "made by
ever so many. Dear Mrs Albany, will you
A Butterfly singes its Wings. 229
be very goodnatured and give us a recita-
tion ? You can't plead incapability after
your acting Olivia as you did ; besides, even
if Douglas won't betray you, Mr Brandon
has let the cat out of the bag, for he says he
is sure it is you he heard once in New York
recite for a charity."
" And Mrs Albany is not easily mistaken,"
Leicester added, with a low bow that made
the remark a compliment.
The haughty woman to whom his feigned
homage was only insult, and she well knew
meant insolence, seemed not even to have
heard him, but answered Adeline, —
" I fear, Lady Glen-Luna, that I should
disappoint you all, for, except for Mr Glen-
Luna, I have not recited for two or three
There was a murmur of protest, and Sir
Arthur exclaimed, —
*' Do your best, my dear, if it is not ask-
ing too much ; and if we're not pleased, I'm
sure it will be our fault alone ! "
230 A Butterfly singes its Wings.
"You are very kind to put it so, Sir
Arthur. Well, I will do my best."
She drew off her gloves, handed them
with her bouquet to Douglas in a quiet,
matter-of-course way, as if he had been her
brother, and drew back to the centre of the
spacious salon, all grace, ease, perfect self-
possession, not a shadow of self-conscious-
ness in one look or movement. So beyond
measure beautiful, standing there literally,
as she did metaphorically, alone before them
all, that for a minute a rush of intolerable
pain went through the heart of the man
who loved her so deeply, so without even
the right of hope. Then her rich, ever
pathetic voice broke the hush of expectation.
" What shall it be ? Grave or gay,
tragedy or comedy ? "
" Oh, comedy, please, Mrs Albany ; make
''Eh hien, then I will give you Mark
Twain's inimitable 'Buck Fanshaw's Funeral'"
She began, and in a very few moments
A Bzitterfly singes its Wings. 231
ripples of suppressed laughter ran along
from lip to lip like a wave ; it might have
been the very men themselves speaking, so
perfect was the reader's adoption of each
character. The dainty, refined, highflown
phrases of the educated minister tripped oif
her tongue in irresistibly amusing contrast
to the strong, rougher, broader American
accent, and ceaseless flow of out-west slanof.
More than once the outburst of laughter com-
pelled a moment's pause, and one lady ^f
high rank whispered to Lady Glen-Luna, —
" It sounds positively absurd to hear all
that queer slang from that delicate, high-
bred woman. I don't suppose she half
knows the English of it all more than we do."
" Indeed, she can tell us every word, my
dear marchioness ; she has been in Cali-
fornia, and the other States too. And, if
she could not, Douglas could, for he has
been all over those regions."
*' Indeed ! well, they must get on well,
then. What a memory she has ! "
232 A Butterfly singes its Wings.
The piece fairly brought down the house,
and the moment Gabrielle moved there was
but one outcry from the throng that made
" Something else, please ! don't stop
yet ! " and the Marchioness of Danvers
said courteously, —
'' If you know it, Mrs Albany, I should
so like to hear a little fugitive piece, not
much known perhaps, of Mrs Barrett Brown-
ing's, called 'A Woman's Question.'"
Gabrielle's dark eyes flashed as she bowed ;
right in a line before her stood her false
husband beside Jessie Glen-Luna ; did she
know he winced under her glance — felt, too,
almost afraid of herself lest all her own
passionate intensity of feeling should speak
too forcibly in the words she uttered even
in the very first verse ?
" Do you know that you have asked for the
Ever made by hand above,
A woman's heart, and a woman's life,
And a woman's wonderful love % "
A Butterfly singes its Wings, 233
The tall form was so directly in the re-
citer s line of vision that it was only natural
those dark eyes should rest on it ; the words
seemed — to him, at any rate — to be ad-
dressed to him, consciously or not ; and
yet he could not move, dared not. Was it
not to him, and him alone — so guilt read
it — that the woman he had so wronged
spoke when she came to the lines, —
*' Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul,
Until I shall question tliee % "
and, with a half step forwards and sternly
pointing hand, met and bore down his gaze,
which, all shrinking as it was, yet impelled
by her very force to gaze again, with the
red blood mounting slowly to his swarthy
cheek, under the terrible irony that he felt,
like cold steel, through all the passion and
pathos with which she especially gave the
last three verses, —
*' Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep
I may launch my all on its tide %
VOL. II. Q
234 ^ Butterfly singes its Wings.
A loving woman finds heaven or hell
The day she is made a bride.
I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be ;
If you give this all, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.
If you cannot do this, a laundress and cook
You can hire, with little to pay ;
But a woman's heart and a woman's life
Are not to be won that way."
The slender hands dropped, the firm lips
closed, the flush died out of the now colour-
less, statuesque face ; back to their depths,
once more suppressed under an iron will,
swept the agony and volcano fires of the
woman's soul that for a few moments had
found some vent ; and, as amidst the
applause she drew back to Douglas's side,
there came over the man who had made
such a wreck — ay, such a hell — of her life
a dim, vague sense of something he had
lost out of his life — something grand and
beautiful — but far beyond him, which that
man held by whom she stood.
A Butterfly singes its Wings. 235
And with that dim sense came a deeper,
fiercer hatred and fear of the wife he had
wronged, and the man who had saved his
dastard life at the loss of more than life
END OF VOL. II.
COLSTON AND SON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
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UNIVERSITY OF ILLIN0I9-URBANA
3 0112 045822381